African football should rise to the challenge of modernization and to keep abreast of rapid developments in sports worldwide, said Tuesday King Mohammed VI of Morocco in a message addressed to an international symposium held in coastal city of Skhirat.
“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”, added the Sovereign in his message that was read out by Sports Minister Rachid Talbi Alami.
“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”, stressed the Monarch, noting that 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.
According to King Mohammed VI, African football cannot achieve its goals unless governing bodies commit to good governance and unless training is improved and infrastructure upgraded.
He also stressed the importance of 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.
“Africa boasts significant natural resources, but its foremost wealth is its young people: African youths account for two-thirds of Africa’s population”, underlined the Sovereign.
“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”, he said.
Thus, “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”, went on to say the Sovereign in his message addressed to the international symposium on African football, held on the eve of the CAF general assembly.
Sport 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, underscored King Mohammed VI.
Morocco regained its natural seat in African institutions, especially the African Union and the CAF Executive Committee, because “I firmly believe in the need to work hand in hand with my brothers in these institutions so as to serve the causes of our continent and defend its interests”, said the Monarch.
“We, in Morocco (…) 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”, he added.
“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”, said King Mohammed VI.