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Moroccan giants Wydad celebrate 83rd anniversary3 minutes read

Morocco’s most successful football club Wydad Athletic Club are marking the 83rd anniversary of their existence

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Morocco’s most successful football club Wydad Athletic Club are marking the 83rd anniversary of their existence.

The origins of its creation are synonymous with its multi-disciplinary leaning. When Morocco was still under French colonial rule, the port city of Casablanca was full of swimming pools but access to them was controlled by the colonial administration. However, from the 1935–36 season, several native Moroccans were allowed to enjoy the swimming pools.

But when the number of natives coming to the clubs grew rapidly and began to outnumber the French, the authorities limited access once again. The idea of a club strictly for Moroccans was floated and after the request was severally denied it was finally approved and Wydad Athletic Club was formed on 8 May 1939. Today the club also fields teams in basketball, fencing, hockey, handball, table tennis, water polo and wrestling.

The origin of the name Wydad is widely debated and unknown to this day but historian Ahmed Lahrizi claims when the first meeting of the first committee of Wydad was held, one of the founding members arrived late after watching the latest film of the legendary Egyptian actress and singer Umm Kulthum entitled Wydad and so the name of the first Moroccan social club in history was called Wydad Athletic Club.

The first section of the club was that of water-polo and after a proposal by the first President, Mohamed Benjelloun, it was decided to set up several other sections and so the football section Wydad was created in 1939. It played its first match in September of the same year against reigning Moroccan champions USM Casablanca in a match that ended in a 2-1 defeat.

It took Wydad more than nine years of its first few years of existence before it finally won it’s first league title in 1948, winning another four before Moroccan independence in 1956. Before then it had reached the final of the Moroccan Throne Cup in 1940, 1943 and 1946 and won the Supercoupe du Maroc twice in 1940 and 1946.

Today, Wydad is the most decorated football club in Morocco with 20 league titles, 9 Moroccan Throne Cups, 2 CAF Champions League titles, 1 African Cup Winners Cup, 1 CAF Super Cup and 1 Afro-Asian Cup title amongst others.

For almost a century Wydad Athletic Club has embodied the struggle of the Moroccan people against French occupation. Unlike other clubs that existed during colonial rule like Racing Casablanca or Union Sportive Marocaine (USM) Casablanca which paraded French expatriates, Wydad was comprised mostly of Moroccan footballers and was thus regarded as a national symbol of the Moroccan nationalist movement wherever it played.

In a North African Cup game in neighboring Algeria, another French colony, the Wydad players refused to play because the Moroccan flag was not hoisted next to the French one. The match did not start until the organizers decided to raise the flag of Morocco next to the French tricolor.

Wydad’s victories over teams owned by the French colonials like USM Casablanca were celebrated as a national holiday by all Moroccans. The then crown Prince to the throne of the Kingdom of Morocco, Hassan II was the main supporter of the team and did not hesitate during half time of matches to visit the locker room to encourage the players of Wydad, who he considered “Moroccan troops”.

Wydad is one of the most popular teams in Africa and the world, with a fan base counted in millions all around the world. The team has also produced legendary players like Badou Zaki, the only Moroccan, Arab and African goalkeeper to be crowned African Footballer of The Year, an award he won in 1986. He would go on to manage the team on no less than four different occasions.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement of the League in Morocco, Wydad were topping the league by a single point ahead of FUS Rabat, although with 2 games in hand. They had also qualified for the semi-final of the CAF Champions League where they were drawn against Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly.

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Egyptian league to wait on government

The President of the Egyptian Football Association reveals that the return of sports in the country is solely dependent on the government

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The President of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) Amr El-Gainany has said the return of sports in the country is solely dependent on the government.

All Sporting activities in Egypt have been suspended since 14 March due to the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world. In Egypt, the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise, as they are getting close to the 20,000-case mark.

The Egyptian FA president says they are prepared for any scenario as he revealed that the future of Egyptian sports is dependent on the decisions of the government.

“We haven’t taken a final decision regarding the future of sports competitions in Egypt,” said El-Ganainy.

“This decision will be made by the government but until now it wasn’t taken.

“We’re fully prepared if the government decides to continue the league”

“Even if the league is cancelled, we’ll be ready and we prepared several scenarios. We all want to continue the league unless the situation doesn’t allow it.

“In case we continue the league, the games won’t be played on the same pitches or the cities, as we want to limit the movement of the players,” he added.

El-Ganainy also gave an update on the health of the EFA’s technical director Mahmoud Saad who contracted the coronavirus after a meeting with some expatriate Egyptian coaches.

“There are no cases within the EFA, we took all of the precautions and we hope that Mahmoud Saad recovers quickly.

“Mahmoud Saad’s situation is improving every day. I want to thank him for his efforts over the previous year’s especially regarding dealing with athletes returning from abroad. He made a lot of efforts which exhausted him,” he concluded.

The former Zamalek coach will undergo the medical protocol cited by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and will take all the official cautions and measurements to face the virus.

The precautionary measures given by the government have been taken inside the EFA’s headquarters since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the EFA’s Chief Executive Walid El-Attar.

The Egyptian Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi said recently that football clubs will resume training in June.

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North Africa Sports

Tunisian League to restart in August behind closed doors

Tunisian football federation announces the country’s football league will resume its season in August behind closed doors

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The Tunisian football federation has announced the country’s football league will resume its season in August behind closed doors. Matches were suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Closed-door training will restart at the beginning of June, the Federation announced. It was initially hoped that Ligue 1 could be restarted in June, but the government rebuffed the FTF’s plan.

No further details were available on the schedule of matches or training, and the restart only relates to the top two tiers of the professional league.

The 2020-2021 Ligue I season is scheduled to begin in October.

Earlier in the week, the FTF in collaboration with the Tunisian health ministry published a strategy document on restarting football.

It says all players will have to commit to respecting virus prevention measures and state that they understand the risks, while assessments and medical examinations will be carried out before and during the competition period.

“The resumption of professional Ligue 1 will take place in August 2020,” read a statement from the FTF website.

“A certain number of measures will apply which has previously published and which will be sent to the clubs in the form of decisions. They will be published again to remind them.

“The 2020/2021 season for Professional Ligue 1 will start on October 24. The 2020/2021 season for the other divisions will start on October 31.

“The Cup matches will be scheduled according to the requirements of the general calendar.

“All the above-mentioned deadlines are always subject to the approval of the state institutions responsible for defining the general policy for the fight against the coronavirus in accordance with the requirements of the health and epidemiological situation.

“If the official meetings have not resumed in August, the federal office will announce the necessary decisions at the appropriate time,” the statement concluded.

Defending champions Esperance lead the standings with 44 points from 16 matches and are unbeaten this season. They are 10 points clear of CS Sfaxien in second, Club Africain and Etoile du Sahel are in 4th and 6th place respectively.

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Zamalek take down controversial “Real African Club of the 20th Century” billboard

Egyptian Premier League giants take down controversial billboard after CAF threaten club with sanctions

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Egyptian Premier League giants Zamalek have taken down a controversial billboard in the premises of the club after the Confederation of African Football CAF threatened the club with sanctions if the billboard was not taken down.

Zamalek stirred fresh controversy when the billboard went up, calling themselves the “real African club of the 20th century”.

CAF did not seem too concerned about the message on the billboard, but showed more concern about infringement of its image rights.

“Please be reminded that CAF … owns, on an exclusive basis, any and all of the rights related to the usage of its logo and visual identity,” CAF said in a letter it sent to Zamalek’s eccentric chairman Mortada Mansour, according to Egyptian media.

“Your club has used and placed, without any prior authorization from CAF, the CAF official logo on a banner within the club perimeters.

“Consequently, your club is hereby summoned: – To immediately cease the facts above by removing the CAF logo from all banners … and to confirm to CAF in a written reply, within 48 hours of the receipt of this letter, its full consideration and respect of the above subparagraphs.

“Failure to strictly comply with any of the requirements above within the delays set forth, CAF will take all necessary measures and actions against your club in order to safeguard the CAF’s rights and interests.”

Zamalek said they will take down the CAF logo and put the message on the billboard back up, adding that they have no problem with the current CAF president Ahmad Ahmad but with the former president Issa Hayatou.

Zamalek believe CAF had unjustly given Al Ahly the honorary “club of the century” award 20 years ago.

The White Knights claim that CAF used a faulty system to determine the winners of the award as they had won a then record of four Africa’s premier club competition at the time while Al Ahly had just two titles then.

CAF’s coefficient system awarded same points to the winners of the African Cup of Champions Clubs (before it changed to the Champions League in 1997), and the winners of the Cup Winners Cup (now the Confederations Cup) which Al Ahly had won four times.

The new century has seen Zamalek trail behind Al Ahly who had a great run seeing them win the CAF Champions League six times, taking their tally to a record eight trophies, three more than Zamalek.

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