Rabat – In response to his “detractors” about his growing closeness to Morocco, Ahmad Ahmad said that Morocco’s commitment to African football’s advancement compels love and admiration.
“My strong friendship, affection, and numerous trips to Morocco are not well received in some quarters,” Ahmad conceded in a Radio interview, according to the January 10 edition of the Al Akhbar newspaper.
But Ahmad’s acknowledgement of his “controversial” and so-called love affair with Morocco is no renunciation. Rather, he suggested his critics are envious to such a degree that “they are sometimes driven sick” to see him support and regularly visit “a country that is Africa’s friend.”
“To those people [critics], I say that I am not interested in what they think. I really like this country,” Ahmad said of Morocco. He went on to explain his “love” by pointing out that Morocco is “a friend of Africa that has shouldered its responsibility toward the continent whenever need arose.”
Pointing to the organization of the 2018 CHAN, which Morocco hosted and Ahmad had called the “most successful CHAN” ever organized, the Malagasy said that Morocco stepped in for African football time and time again when it came to hosting tournaments or sponsoring other football events on the continent.
“Morocco has on many occasions come to the rescue of African football…. That’s exactly what others have declined to do and that’s why I’m proud of my friendship with a kingdom that has done so much for continental football,” hammered a sentimental Ahmad.
While this is the first time Ahmad squarely speaks of his love for and attachment to Morocco, his admiration for Moroccan football is no news to African football watchers. The Malagasy is an admirer of Morocco’s South-South agenda and has been an established pro-Morocco voice in Africa football’s governing body.
Is Ahmad’s CAF more supportive of Morocco than it should be?
Until this interview, however, Ahmad’s public support for Morocco was couched in cautious language that pointed more to the country’s “advanced infrastructure” and “commitment to pan-African agendas” than his own “affection” and admiration for the North African country.
In the build-up to the voting process of the 2026 World Cup hosting rights, Ahmad Ahmad constantly defied FIFA’s “biased and partial” impartiality pleas. The Malagasy on many occasions called on all African countries to cast their votes for Morocco. He argued that Morocco’s victory would be synonymous with Africa’s victory.
Most recently, Morocco surprisingly ruled itself out of the late-minute contest for the CAN 2019 hosting rights.
When CAF stripped Cameroon of the right to host the continent’s most celebrated football event for being “technically unfit and unprepared,” many expected that Morocco would step in as a last-minute candidate and would get the tacit approval of CAF, regardless of who the other candidates were.
But Morocco ditched those expectations. Morocco’s football authorities said that CAN 2019 was not part of their agenda. Critics, however, remain convinced that Rabat simply did not intend to add insult to injury given the widely-circulating rumors that CAF would have backed its bid.
Whether critics were wrong, we will never know. Meanwhile, Ahmad Ahmad is adamant about Morocco being a “role model” and an “inspiration” for African football.
Like Morocco, African countries need to invest more in infrastructure and show genuine political will to support the advancement of football in their respective countries and at the continental level, Ahmad concluded.