Morocco: Football resumes amid Covid-19 threat


All eyes in Africa are on Morocco after football action resumed in the North African country amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with outstanding top-flight matches being staged last weekend.

The return of football in one of Africa’s strongest footballing nations is likely to give a gentle nudge to other countries on the continent to find lasting measures of bringing back the game while containing the coronavirus threat.

The Botola-Pro, which is Morocco’s top-flight league competition, picked up from where it had left off last Monday as the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) sought to have teams with games in hand to play catch up.

All postponed games are to be completed first before the full official return of the 21st round of the Botola-Pro on August 10.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the FRMF to suspend all football activities on March 16, with nine rounds to the end of the season.

The increased number of Moroccan clubs playing in the different continental and regional competitions this year presented a huge challenge to the league in terms of match scheduling, hence the huge number of outstanding games.

Six of the outstanding matches of this season’s Botola-Pro have been played with Raja Casablanca collecting seven points out of a possible nine, a feat that saw them move to second place (35), two points behind leaders Wydad Casablanca (37).

Raja, the club with most trophies in African football history, played to a 0-0 draw against Difaa El Jadidi before winning 3-1 against CR Khemmis Zemamra. They then defeated Youssoufia 2-1.

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“All football matches at the national level are being held under the best possible conditions to prevent the spread of the virus with games being held behind closed doors and are televised,” the FRMF said.

Preventive and health measures were also being made available by the FRMF and its medical staff, and clubs were asked to adhere and comply with them, to make sure the return of football in Morocco is smooth and does not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

Only the SNRT, Morocco’s national broadcaster, was given the right to cover the Botola-Pro matches after the resumption, through the TV channel, Arriyadia, which holds broadcasting rights, while a media informative guide is being made available to journalists through the FRMF website.

The lockdown gave the federation an opportunity to attend to stadiums with improvements being made to most of the facilities regarding the quality of the pitch in the different stadiums, while lighting was upgraded to LED.

The Botola-Pro second division has also resumed.



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