KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Russian football, with its hosting of the World Cup less than two months away, remains unable to shake off concerns about racist behaviour from its fans..

Complaints have been raised about racist chants during last month’s friendly in which Russia lost 3-1 to France in St Petersburg and during Arsenal’s Europa League tie against CSKA Moscow.

World federation FIFA has said it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian Football Union over targeting of French players believed to have included Ousmane Dembele and marksmen Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice, and midfielder Paul Pogba.

UEFA has said no formal reports have been submitted over the Europa League tie;  it has fined the RFU twice over racist behaviour charges at the last two European Championships.

The latest charge is the third racism case this season at the St Petersburg stadium which staged the Opening Match and Final of last year’s Confederations Cup and which will stage host a World Cup semi-final among other matches.

Previously Zenit St Petersburg has faced UEFA charges twice for racist behaviour by its fans in Europa League games.

CSKA have rejected media claims of racist chanting against black Arsenal players Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi last week during the 2-2 draw which saw the Russian club eliminated.

Alexei Smertin, the RFU’s anti-discrimination inspector, has said the organisation will cooperate with the FIFA investigation.

In a statement Smertin, a former international, said: “The Russian Football Union is ready to take an active part in it and is already conducting an internal investigation.”

Later he told a media briefing: “We are looking for the people who were shouting. They should not be at football stadia.”



AP Exclusive: Morocco World Cup bid masks homosexuality banA FIFA task force arrived in Morocco on Monday to inspect a World Cup bid that obscures one potential impediment to hosting the 2026 soccer showpiece: Homosexuality is a criminal offense in the north African country.An Associated Press review of 483 pages of documents submitted to FIFA found Morocco failed to declare its anti-LGBT law as a risk factor and provide a remedy, appearing to flout stringent new bidding requirements.“Morocco’s human rights report presented to the FIFA is an intentional silence on an issue that Morocco knows too well is a crime on its soil,” Ahmed El Haij, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, told the AP.“It is evident that if Morocco was to host the World Cup, LGBT people coming to watch the games will face a lot of discrimination. The state will not be able to protect them nor will it be able to commit in preventing measures that could be taken against them by both the state and society.”Under Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, sexual acts between people of the same sex are punishable by six months to three years in prison.While World Cup hosts could previously largely shake off concerns from activists, FIFA has demonstrated a growing awareness in recent years of how rights abuses can impact its events.World Cups must be in environments free of “discrimination based on sexual orientation,” FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura wrote to activists last year discussing the forthcoming tournament in Russia. Samoura’s letter reflected a policy incorporated into world soccer statutes in 2013 as scrutiny of human rights mounted in Russia and 2022 World Cup host Qatar.“Under the new nondiscrimination requirements under FIFA’s statutes and under the Human Rights Policy, one of the red lines is anti-gay activity, laws or policies,” Human Rights Watch director of global initiatives Minky Worden told the AP.“Morocco, if they’re serious about winning, would need to be prepared to repeal the article of the penal code which punishes people for being gay,” she added.Unlike when Russia and Qatar emerged victorious in the 2018-2022 FIFA bidding contest eight years ago, prospective hosts for the 2026 tournament were mandated to commission independent human rights reports and provide frank risk assessments that form part of the task force’s evaluation. A bid that scores too low based on technical criteria or fails to meet the tournament requirements can be disqualified by the FIFA Council before soccer nations vote on the 2026 host on June 13.While the United States-Canada-Mexico bid chose to publish its human rights documents, Morocco repeatedly refused requests from the AP to match the disclosure. The Morocco bid’s international communications team also declined to provide any LGBT policy or how the criminalization of same-sex relations would be addressed during a potential World Cup.The AP was provided with the human rights annexes to Morocco’s bid book by FIFA only after highlighting the north African nation’s lack of transparency to the soccer world and the up to 207 member nations who will vote in Moscow.There is a solitary passing reference to LGBT rights in the main 381-page bid book: A narrowly worded pledge by the Moroccan soccer federation to “work to combat all forms of discrimination” including “sexual orientation,” signed by its president, Fouzi Lekjaa.
Arab Summit affirms, unanimously, its support for Morocco’s candidacy for the organization of the 2026 WorldMinister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita announced on Sunday that the 29th Arab Summit held in the Saudi city of Dhahran has affirmed its unanimous support for Morocco’s bid to organize the 2026 World Cup football.In a statement to the press after the Arab Summit, Mr. Bourita said that “the summit has unanimously affirmed its support for the candidature of the Kingdom of Morocco for the organization of the World Cup 2026 and called upon all States to provide full support and unfailing support for this nomination “.The 29th Arab Summit was held Sunday in Dhahran with the participation of HRH Prince Moulay Rachid who represented HM King Mohammed VI at this summit, which was attended by several Kings, Princes, Heads of State and Government and representatives of the Arab States, in addition to the representatives and officials of various international and regional organizations.
SA will support Morocco’s 2026 FIFA WC bid, Jordaan16 April 2018 – SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give the North Africans the unqualified support to get another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize together with Canada, Mexico and USA.The Moroccan delegation comprised of ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker, El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper, Joseph-Antoine Bell.Dr Jordaan said it will be great for Africa to have a second bite of the FIFA World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best FIFA World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA President.Dr Jordaan assured Morocco that he will personally lobby for COSAFA and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccan bid.In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients of hosting another spectacular FIFA World Cup.“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards; from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.One of the best goalkeepers to come out of Africa, Antoine Bell said Morocco had put all in their 2026 bid and winning it would not be on sentimental grounds but would be worth it.He said by giving Morocco its support; South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent.“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell.“Morocco needs South Africa’s voice, it is the loudest voice on the continent,” added the Cameroonian.
House of Representatives provides institutional support to Morocco’s bidThe candidature of Morocco for the organization of the World Cup mobilizes all the living forces of the country. Ph. Kartouch The candidature of Morocco for the organization of the World Cup mobilizes all the forces of the country. Ph. KartouchAll the forces of the nation are mobilizing to support Morocco’s bid to host the World Cup 2026. The President of the House of Representatives yesterday reiterated the support of the legislative institution in this project, on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. According to Habib El Malki, the solid dossier presented by Morocco makes its application a logical and realistic approach.It seems that the Kingdom’s candidature file for the organization of the World Cup is getting all the attention. On Monday in Parliament, Speaker of the House of Representatives Habib El Malki reiterated the unconditional support and full support of the House for this project, a dream of an entire nation. According to Mr. El Malki, the Kingdom has every chance on its side to meet this challenge by capitalizing on its achievements and expertise in this area. “Morocco has all the potential to realize this legitimate dream of being able to organize the World Cup of 2026, because we have a high quality file. Many things have been done and the Moroccan committee is working on preparing a well-crafted offer. We welcome the support of many Arab countries and friendly countries around the world, “he told a meeting yesterday in the House of Representatives to celebrate the International Day of Sport in the service of development and peace.The technical file is well prepared, certainly, but it denier will only support the many strengths “natural” available to the Kingdom and who that Morocco is able to ensure the success of this prestigious competition, as he managed, in the past, the challenge of carrying out the organization of important events. “The candidacy of Morocco is reinforced by important assets, particularly its geographical proximity, being a crossroads between Africa and Europe, between East and West. It’s easy for fans to move in a single time zone.The Kingdom also has sports, tourism, organizational and health facilities of quality. These different strengths are supported by the Kingdom’s vocation as a country promoting peace and stability in its Euro-Mediterranean neighborhood. All these strengths that make the Moroccan application file is logical, comprehensive and realistic, and especially that it meets the standards of the International Football Federation, “says the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Indeed, and as still remember Mr. El Malki, despite the non-completion of applications for the organization of the World Cup four times (1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010), a great impetus was given to projects sports facilities thanks to the great Royal Orientations expressed during the National Sports Conference held last October.”His Majesty King Mohammed VI placed sport at the heart of his concerns. The Royal Guidelines have been translated by the installation of local sports equipment, but also by paying particular attention to high level sport. Royal Letter to National Sports Conference, held in October 2008, perfectly illustrates this special interest, “said for his part Rachid Talbi Alami, Minister of Youth and Sports, in a speech read by Nadia Benaali, Secretary General from the same department. Indeed, the particular interest given to mass sport has not overshadowed that accorded to high-level sport, which now benefits from a program aimed at producing great athletes capable of defending national colors at national and international competitions. . This program is also supported by the strategy to support school sports, which aims to find young talents in the school and university environment and support them in their professionalization.In this regard, Saïd Amzazi, Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, said that his department had set up more than 58 sports centers with a capacity of hosting 24,000 students to encourage children enrolled in the first cycle to practice sport while waiting for the generalization of this experience. The guardianship department has also begun preparations for the organization of the largest protest World School Sports Event to be held for the first time on African soil. It will be from May 2nd to 9th, 2018 in Casablanca and Marrakech.