By Sports Express Reporter
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) was majestic in commitment to football after it made sure that the league season was concluded with clubs playing in empty stadiums as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Raja Casablanca emerged the winners in a nail-biting contest which was decided by a single point on Sunday as defending champions Wydad Athletic Club (WAC) finished in second place.
After a four-month hiatus caused by the global Covid-19 epidemic football resumed in Morocco under strict health guidelines to curb the spread of the virus.
It also meant that clubs would miss out on important revenue generated from gate takings which would mean viability but the FRMF poured millions of dollars into Morocco football to ensure that first and second division clubs could stay afloat and finish the season
The loss that clubs have suffered from during the pandemic is easily the biggest in many years.
“Playing football behind closed doors, was a hard decision to accept for Moroccan clubs, especially the big ones”. An Anonymous source from the “FRMF” told the Moroccan newspaper, “Al Akhbar” in July.
Indeed, Wydad Athletic Club, and Raja Club Athletic, the two most famous teams in the country, by being able to attract more than 45 000 fans regularly to the Mohamed V stadium, were the biggest victims among all clubs of the country during this pandemic.
They estimated their loss from ticket sale and sponsors at US$3 million each.
WAC who have won the Botola league 20 times have been representing Morocco on a regular basis in the last five years, in the African club champions league, but most importantly is by far, one of the greatest achievers, in this competition in the same period of time.
They were crowned the title in 2017 but also reached very advanced rounds in each edition. Thus, WAC was used to very high revenues each year, especially for ticket sales in the continental league.
The same applies for Raja Club Athletic, who advanced very regularly in the continental competitions during the past three years, to win the confederation cup in 2018 and to qualify for the champions league semi-finals during the current season of 2019-2020.
But smaller clubs, have progressed tremendously too during the previous five or six years, and were able to represent the Botola teams as efficiently as the two clubs of Casablanca.
Renaissance De Berkane (RSB), Hassania D’agadir (HUSA), and Fath De Rabat are the perfect examples.
RSB and HUSA suffered too this year in terms of revenues compared to previous seasons.
In previous years, the Moroccan clubs took advantage of ticket sales revenues, which could go up to more than US$60 000 for each match played at home. However, during the pandemic period, these clubs continued to pay salaries to players and staffs while not being even able to play due to the lockdown.
The situation was getting worse for the second division clubs and for the amateurs in the same period of time, as local authorities stopped subsidizing them.
Hence, this has badly impacted the financial situation of these smaller clubs who saw themselves not being able to pay even the salaries of the players and staff for months.
Luckily “FRMF” was there again to save the day in Moroccan football.
Through, its full support, different clubs, big and small, could resist the crisis as far as money is concerned.
A lot of Botola club players tested positive for Covid-19 after football resumed in the country.
“FRMF” reacted positively to the situation, and supported the clubs financially in order to isolate their players and staff regularly in hotels or other venues before each and every match.
It was reported that between US$25 000 and US$30 000 was disbursed to each first division club, while US$20 000 was disbursed to second division clubs, for this reason.
On the 24th of July 2020 the “FRMF” announced that each club from the National division of Amateurs would be entitled to receive an exceptional amount of US$30 000 as a supportive measure from the federation, to be able to resume football activities in the most ultimate possible conditions.
As a matter of fact, the total amount of money that was disbursed from the “FRMF” to all its all lower amateur divisions reached US$ 1.64 million, while the total amount disbursed to referees pertaining to different regional leagues reached US$225 000.
Providing all the ingredients and preparing the conditions for success to put the championship on the right track and in optimal conditions, despite the state of health emergency in the country, was a great challenge that the federation took up and a great gamble that it won thanks to the combined efforts of all those involved in the field.