Morocco makes strong case to host 2025 Afcon

Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

Morocco welcomed more than 12 African teams for friendly competitions during the last Fifa window.

The vibe towards football has heightened over the past weeks in Morocco.

The North African country is still over the moon after making a maiden semi-final appearance for the continent at the Fifa World Cup during the Qatar 2022 competition last month.

For Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF), this is only one of the big fruits yielded thus far from the grand strategy for the development of local soccer developed in 2014. That’s according to federation president Fouzi Lekjaa.

And there is just more that RMFF wants to achieve. After years of heavy investment, Morocco is seeking to host the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in 2025.

They were successfully shortlisted by continental body Caf and are now subject to a vote during a meeting slated for February 10.

The other bidders for the same tournament are Algeria, Zambia and South Africa as well as Nigeria and Benin who have a joint-bid.

Caf president Patrice Motsepe however looks to have given early hints on the next hosts. “Each region will have a chance to organise a Can (Cup of Nations). We cannot assign the organisation of the Can successively to the same region,” the South African business magnet said last week.

Inevitably, Nigeria and Benin could be out of the contest considering the fact that Ivory Coast will host the 2023 Afcon finals early next January.

Then, 2012 champions Zambia are looking to host Afcon for the first time and are backed up by recently hosting the 2017 U20 Afcon finals.

South Africa meanwhile hosted Afcon a decade ago, three years after staging the Fifa World Cup.

The other bidders Algeria are currently hosting this African Nations Championship (Chan) finals and are using the tournament as a fresh bargaining chip to affirm their desire to host the 2025 event.

Of course, the prevailing tournament has been dampened by Morocco’s decline to compete despite having won the last two Chan finals’ editions on home soil in 2018 and in Cameroon two years later.

Morocco opted out of the Chan 2022 owing to political disagreements with Algeria after the latter closed its airspace to Moroccan planes and flights.

The two North African nations now face off in quest for the Afcon 2025 but Lekjaa is confident of winning the rights. Morocco has not hosted Afcon since 1988 while Algeria staged the event in 1990.

Lekjaa’s bid is backed by a recent boom in infrastructure as the country, going by their 2014 plan, now has more than 200 synthetic turf fields, 20 stadiums with natural turf and lighting, five regional training centres and the famous Mohammed VI Football Complex.

“In the 12 regions of Morocco, we have a team piloting regional development, starting with the detection of talent, which must go through the training centers of clubs,” said Lekjaa in an online conversation.

“That’s why we have made a huge effort to provide clubs with training centers. The regional centers are the same as the national center, but in miniature,” he noted.

Those facilities sit on about 30 hectares and offer state-of-the-art equipment. Besides infrastructure, Morocco is banking on its healthy relationship with the continent to win the bid.

This is hinged on the fact RMFF has since 2015 signed more than 40 partnerships with African federations from all sub-confederations of Caf with most contracts extended in 2019.

Morocco welcomed more than 12 African teams for friendly competitions during the last Fifa window.

And after Caf declined accepting stadiums for some countries on grounds of standards, Morocco opened up to over 10 African federations to play their official matches there such as Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea.

Some partnerships have since had Morocco develop projects for the construction of soccer fields, such as in Ziniaré, Burkina Faso and in Riboque, Sao Tome. Djibouti and Liberia could have similar projects soon.

“In any case the success at the level of our continent can only be collective and evolution can only be collective,” Lekjaa adds.

In addition, RMFF continues to donate sports equipment, with thousands of balls given to over 20 federations including South Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda, Madagascar and CAR.

Largely, these moves are done in line with the high orientations of the King of Morocco who sets Africa in the priorities of his diplomacy and foreign policy.

And the RMFF hopes that, by staging a quality Fifa Club World Cup early month, it will have done enough thus far to swing the 2025 Afcon hosting rights into their favour.


2024: Ivory Coast

2022: Cameroon

2019: Egypt

2017: Gabon

2015: Equatorial Guinea

2013: South Africa

2012: Gabon & Equatorial Guinea

2010: Angola

2008: Ghana

2006: Egypt

2004: Tunisia

2002: Mali

2000: Ghana & Nigeria

1998: Burkina Faso

1996: South Africa

1994: Tunisia