Radio France pays tribute to Moroccan sports diplomacy

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The place occupied by sport in general and football in particular in Morocco’s diplomatic actions was at the centre of the debates of a “Radio France” podcast, presented by Julie Gacon, who invited Yassine El Yattioui, secretary general of the Nej Maroc Think tank, and Abderrahim Bourkia, teacher-researcher at Hassan 1st University and professor of sociology of sport at the Settat Institute of Sports Sciences.

Julie Gacon noted that in addition to its impressive performance during the recent 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Morocco has also become an important interlocutor within the institutions that govern world football.

To highlight the Kingdom’s diplomatic success, the presenter indicated that Morocco will therefore organize the 2025 African Cup of Nations and the 2030 World Cup, jointly with Spain and Portugal.

Yassine El Yattioui noted that thanks to sports diplomacy, the Moroccan Football Federation participates in the development of African football by financing some sports infrastructures in certain African countries, such as Malawi.

“There are really very deep links now between the two federations to work jointly and simply develop this small country,” said El Yattioui. Through this, the two countries have forged deep economic partnerships.

Abderrahim Bourkia described football as a powerful tool for bringing people together, particularly through donations and support for African federations, citing as an example the latest donation from the Moroccan Federation to the Rwandan Federation.

Addressing the question of Morocco’s influence on the African Football Confederation after several years of cold weather, Yassine El Yattioui stressed that the appointment of Faouzi Lakjaa as the head of the Moroccan Federation in 2014 constitutes a turning point in relations between the Moroccan Federation and CAF, dominated by Issa Hayatou for about 30 years.

Faouzi Lakjaa had worked hard to support the candidacy of Malagasy Ahmed Ahmed as the head of CAF, particularly through his connections with his West African counterparts.

Faouzi Lakjaa continues also his support of the candidacy of the South African, Patrice Motsepe. “The rapprochement between Faouzi Lakjaa and Motsepe also has a political goal. We recall that South Africa is the last faithful supporter of Algeria in the cause of the Moroccan Sahara. So, isolating Algeria with this support from South Africa will simply allow in the long term to have slightly deeper links between Rabat and Pretoria,” he underlined.

Abderrahim Bourkia indicated that the diplomatic role is mainly played by Nacer Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs for several years.

“Faouzi Lakjaa also builds links with these countries through sport and football. We see that many countries in West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa are simply setting up consulates, not in Rabat, but in the Moroccan Sahara cities of Laayoun and Dakhla, the two major cities of Morocco.

“Through this diplomatic presence, we simply see that through the prism of football and the prism of pure diplomacy led by Nacer Bourita, we see that there are concrete results. So, yes, sport is one of the levers of this progress in Morocco’s diplomacy with international bodies,” he added.

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