Africa’s future hinges on empowering our youths, on opening up prospects for them to showcase their skills and talents and on our ability to integrate young Africans. Needless to say, Africa boasts significant natural resources. However, its foremost wealth is its young people: African youths account for two-thirds of Africa’s population. We believe they can play a key role in achieving the robust development we all yearn for, provided we bring about the conditions required for our young people to hone their skills and put them to good use.
Seen from this perspective, the practice of sport in general, and football in particular, is one of the main pathways to our young people’s fulfilment and their integration into the social and economic fabric. It is also a means to shield them against all forms of delinquency and extremism, and to spare them the risk of putting their lives and their future in jeopardy by resorting to illegal migration.
Football is more than just a sport or a means to achieve titles. It is about values and principles. It builds on sportsmanship, teamwork and fair competition. It contributes to promoting greater openness and understanding, in addition to fostering closer bonds between peoples.
As you know, football is the most popular sport in Africa and the world. It is important in the lives of African populations and is deeply ingrained in society. African football has a solid record in terms of achievement in various international events, as well as in terms of great football stars that perform brilliantly on the continent and in the greatest championships and clubs.
Nevertheless, African football today is called upon, more than ever, to rise to the challenge of modernization and to keep abreast of rapid developments in sports worldwide. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless governing bodies commit to good governance and unless training is improved and infrastructure upgraded. Just as important, in this respect, is the need to meet requirements for professional careers, enhance the marketing of African football and strike a balance between the development of elite football and football for the masses.
We, in Morocco, are facing the same challenges as our brothers and sisters in the rest of Africa, and we also nurture the same ambition to develop and expand the practice of sport in general, and football in particular. We truly believe in the role sports can play in human development, in social integration and cohesion as well as in enhancing influence at regional, continental and international levels.
To give concrete substance to a policy rooted in solidarity with African countries, and consistent with a strong belief in the importance of inter-African cooperation, Morocco has been keen to put the experience it has gained in the sports sector at the disposal of our African brothers. In this respect, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation has signed more than 34 agreements covering a number of areas, including infrastructure, sports medicine and the exchange of technical expertise, in addition to hosting training camps for the national teams of a number of African sister nations, all categories included.
Morocco is looking forward to the advent of a strong, cooperative, solidarity-based Africa that takes its rightful place in international institutions and forums, be it with regard to decision-making, participation or the legitimate right to organize world-class sporting events, particularly the World Cup.
A course of action for the development of African football should be based on an objective assessment of football on our continent and should address the human and material resources needed as well as the organizational mechanisms that can help us rise to challenges and develop this popular sport to meet world-class standards.
By HM Mohammed VI
King of Morocco.