Morocco eyes 2016 African Cup of Nations

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Morocco is the only country to have submitted its candidacy to organize the 2016 Africa Cup of Nations. Although there is still time before the final application is submitted, the country’s football infrastructure has raised a few eyebrows.

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea won a joint bid to host the continental soccer games in 2012, while Libya is to host the 2014 African Cup of Nations.

And even though Morocco, Kenya, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea are competing to host the 2016 games, only the Kingdom of Morocco has officially submitted its candidacy.

“We are ready to organize a major competition and we have our chances. Morocco meets CAN’s selection criteria,” said Moncef Belkhayat, Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports, in January. “We’ve already won a Cup once, in 1976, and we have not organized the games since 1988. By 2016, all the necessary stadiums will be built and operational.”

Victim to its poor performance, Morocco was eliminated from the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola as well as the World Cup in South Africa.

June 2009, a sum of 250 million dirhams (about 24 million euros) was allocated to the Royal Moroccan Football Federation for a “structural upgrading of national football”.

In December, the north African country’s government again announced no less than a 35 million euro plan to rescue the ailing national sport between 2010 and 2016.

For now, however, with three operational stadiums, two projects nearing completion and a layout for a new project, Morocco is not ready. But there is still time.

The three stadiums in Fez, Rabat and Casablanca are proud hosts of at least one game per week during the football season. Construction on the Tangier and Marrakech stadiums, meanwhile, have been delayed.

Ordinarily, the delays don’t seem serious until the construction of the story of the “Fez Sports Complex” is remembered with apprehension: The project lasted for over a decade before finally being inaugurated in January 2008!

So, even if there is no need to worry about possible delays with the Tangier and Marrakech projects (forecasted for completion in 2010 and 2011 respectively), the Agadir staduim project is cast in doubt.

The error of the 2010 World Cup application should not be repeated with more layouts for new projects than existing sporting facilities.

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