In a series of interviews, the boss of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation assured that he had never voted for any postponement of CAN 2021.
“We have always been by his side and vice versa”. After strong criticism of the Moroccan position, which seemed favorable to a possible postponement of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) in Cameroon, Fouzi Lekjâa, the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), assures that there was never any question, in reality, of any support to Egypt and Burkina Faso.
Asked by Jeune Afrique, the one who is also Minister Delegate to the Minister of Economy and Finance in charge of the Budget, sweeps the accusations. Wasn't Lekjâa in favor of postponing CAN 2021? " This is absolutely not the case. These are rumors without foundation or logic, ”he replies quite simply.
The boss of Moroccan football tries to explain, in his interview, that he, during the CAF general assembly in Cairo, "unanimously validated the start of the CAN from January 9". Fouzi Lekjâa to return to a statement "to say that the kingdom was implementing all means to help Cameroon organize the competition", after a first snub two years ago.
These accusations of having wanted to postpone, or even cancel, the CAN, Fouzi Lekjâa sweeps them away and affirms that, if the question has arisen, it is simply because of the health situation, the discovery of the Omicron variant and not because of a delay taken by Cameroon. “When the Omicron variant began to circulate actively, the president of CAF, Mr. Mostepe, invited the members of the Executive Committee to a meeting whose agenda was exclusively devoted to CAN in the health context. At the end of this meeting, I myself congratulated Cameroon for the adaptation efforts it has made ”.
"We have always been at his side and reciprocally", continues Fouzi Lekjâa, who "recalls that the last time the CAN took place in Cameroon, it was won by Morocco".
"Nobody spoke of postponement"
Within the local organizing committee of the CAN, little believes in these explanations. For several weeks, relatives of the committee have claimed to be the victims of an attempt at destabilization led by Morocco, and more generally by the International Football Federation (FIFA). "This contempt for Africa must end," said a source close to the local organizing committee of the CAN in December, when a possible cancellation of the competition was mentioned.
In an output to say the least publicized, the former Cameroonian footballer Roger Milla had openly affirmed, quoting Morocco and Egypt, that "the Maghreb countries are those which always make a mess, which always make disorder". "If they are not Africans, they go and play for Europe, for Asia or for others, but they do not come to make a mess on the African continent", he continued. The former Indomitable Lion has since apologized.
Two days before being interviewed by Jeune Afrique, Fouzi Lekjâa had already told RFI that " nobody, I say nobody, spoke of postponement. It was the other way around. Myself, I have seen the evolutions of the infrastructures, the stadiums, it is something extraordinary ”.
However, in December, the executive committee of CAF, which met in Doha this time, had already made a first vote against the postponement of the CAN. A ballot for which, according to our sources, there was not unanimity. Other sources assure that three members voted for the postponement of the CAN: the Egyptian Hani Abu Rida, the Burkinabè Sita Sangaré… and the Moroccan Fouzi Lekjâa.
Morocco has never commented on this information. On the Burkinabè side, we are assured that it was never a question of voting but rather of discussing a possible postponement. However, it is common knowledge that when FIFA President Gianni Infantino urged African countries to support him to obtain the postponement of the CAN, he could always count on Egyptian and Moroccan support.