Wydad watched and blushed at the chaos represented by the temple of Moroccan football, the latest renovation of which has already swallowed 220 million dirhams … The story of a football evening, highlighting the way the kingdom’s stadiums are run, which is not working.
Zone 1, Fumitwar 1… Reaching the semi-finals of the comeback, against Wydad at Petro Atletico, on Friday 13th May, it was all about the horror. Because entering the temple of Moroccan football – the legendary Mohammed V complex – is often a test capable of discouraging, including the brave Marcel Cerdan, who named this building when it opened its doors in 1955.
When it is not necessary to scramble at one of the stadium’s 24 gates, logistical constraints can be a deterrent: time of entry, mode of transportation, or a parking space… But above all, before you have the courage to embark on these adventures, you have to find tickets. Essential of course! However, it is far from as simple as buying a ticket. The story of a “customer experience” and questions about the performance of Moroccan stadiums in four stages in a decisive match…
Pre-match: tickets and capacity
Like a miraculous return from FC Barcelona, six tickets fell into the grandstand from the sky on the afternoon of this remarkable sporting event. The initial ambition was to buy it as soon as it was put up for sale online. “Casa Events is the director of the stadium, but our modern booking platform “casawe.ma” does not yet have exclusivity at the ticket office,” explains Mohamed El-Gawahri, director of the local development company.
He continued, “We continue to rely on our historical partner “guichet.ma” for the matches of the resident clubs of Raja and Wydad, while Al-Ittihad runs alongside it the tickets for the national team match.”
For the evening’s game, Casa Events was inspired by the league’s distribution model. “We had to forgo the 100% digital solution, which is to grant access simply by presenting a printed QR code. For this meeting, the purchase is online, but the beneficiary had to redeem the virtually secure tickets with holograms to reduce fraud by 90% % ”, as determined by the head of the SDL company who collects, on behalf of the municipality, 15% of tickets sales.
The recipe for the evening will remain secret, but officially the number of places allocated for this meeting has been set at 30 thousand, after a penalty by the African Union against Wydad. As a result, tickets are not found once the internet counter is opened. “The capacity of the Mohammed V complex, 48,000 places, is really not suitable for large meetings where the public at large respond collectively,” found recently, and photographed by Le360, Abdellatif Naciri, Vice President of the City Council, in charge of sports affairs. According to him, “it is necessary to re-launch the project of the great Casablanca stadium capable of accommodating at least 80,000 spectators.”
This famous project, expected for ages, changes its location, size and budget on the occasion of each nomination of the Kingdom to organize the World Cup, with huge expenses sometimes in studies and architectural competitions. Today, if it is on the shelves of the elected officials in Casablanca, in the sports department that they will (at least) have to contribute to its financing, we would prefer to open a corner. Many parameters of this project still have to be improved, such as off-site facilities, the financial package or the way this stadium is managed. Mohamed Hememaz, sports director, explains. Understand: it is not for the previous tomorrow. So, let’s get back to today’s match…
Departure: General in the spring
One of our six tickets – with a category that was not on sale for a “theoretical” price of Dh1,000 – was not found. In any case, none of the five hosts contacted in this area was able to point to seat 341. Instead, he invites you to sit where he is free…in the hope that the real occupant of the seat will do the same.
The seat numbers, district and row signs are clearly decorative only. Especially in the stands and covered kiosks (with tickets selling at 50 or 100 dirhams), where the principle of first come, first established seems to be unshakable. You have to believe that taking a seat at the Mohammed V complex is not yet rooted in the culture of enthusiasts, whether they are Wydad, Raja or supporters of the Atlas Lions.
The provision of seating throughout the stadium only dates back to the last rehabilitation launched in 2016 and completed between 2018 and 2019. “It was not installed in 1983 when the complex received a facelift for the Mediterranean Games. In 2000, only the side stands were equipped to maintain a greater capacity, says one stadium expert. And everything had to be redesigned during the last renovation to have 45,900 seats, including the amphitheater with 560 luxury seats.”
The extended scene can be enjoyed comfortably on one of them. It is played more on the side of the stands, with a new tivo to grace the soccer planet and especially the loyal Ultra, installed in the spring, creating an atmosphere that makes the Reds sallow. On the other hand, on the grass – which had to be replanted a few weeks after the stadium’s refurbishment – it is a far cry from Liverpool. But the Red Patriots players do the job by keeping their lead from the first leg at halftime.
Half Time: The Rehab Scandal
Pee break? It is best to avoid as much as possible in the Mohammed V complex; No need to go into gross details…a coffee break? Catering service in proportion to the means of Wydad. But the VIP buffet room is still correct…
At least, it does not look like the ghost town, which the elected officials of the capital discovered in astonishment and who had recently ordered an inspection at the Mohammed V complex, after the abuses and violence it witnessed a few weeks ago. In the outbuildings of the complex, especially in the gym, the facilities are dilapidated, the doors are broken and rusted, the equipment is deserted.
However, at least 220 million dirhams has been swallowed up in rehabilitation work largely financed by the Ministry of Sports (130 million dirhams), but also by the Moroccan Football Association (40 million dirhams) and the Casablanca municipality with 30 million dirhams. dirhams. . Abdel-Latif Al-Nasiri warns that “the final acceptance of the work has not yet been approved, and the municipality will be strict in controlling actual expenses.”
In the crosshairs of the elected Beddawi, the local development company Casa Amending, which is also demanding an extension of 90 million dirhams to complete the rehabilitation plan of the Mohammed V complex.
Final whistle: Rejoicing and Umrah
Back to the players’ dressing rooms, back to the spectators’ benches. The 341 alternate seat occupant took his place, with his support ticket. It’s time to leave this historical complex, around which new residential areas have flourished. “Its location may represent a disadvantage from an organizational and security point of view, but it is also its main asset. There is enough to make it a cultural center able to live all week and not only on important match days,” explains an elected official from the capital.
The typical location of this large stadium explains why it remains one of the rare major football infrastructures, still belonging to the metropolitan municipality, and above all remaining outside the bosom of the National Company for the Construction and Management of Stadiums (Sonarges). Created by decree in 2008, this public company was intended as a realistic response to the lack of sports infrastructure that the Kingdom continues to suffer from. Ultimately, however, the company served only as a cash register and contracting authority for the construction of major stadiums in Marrakesh, Tangiers and Agadir, which swallowed up billions of dirhams only to finally open on rare occasions. Within ten years of activity, the company has accumulated only a turnover of 208 million dirhams.
© Copyright: Source: Sonarges
Within the sports department, there are no illusions about the future of this structure. “If Sonarges has the advantage of being a public company, its restructuring is necessary to truly provide it with the human and material resources capable of performing its mission,” acknowledges the Director of Sports in the Ministry headed by Chakib Benmoussa.
A few years ago, the structure was also close to bankruptcy: the state had to return 45 million dirhams to pay off the obligations of this company. Since then, it has been on hiatus with an annual subsidy of nearly Dh30 million. An envelope that has not increased after Sonarj recently acquired the management of the Great Stadium of Fez and the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat, having been denied their status as an independently administered government service (SEGMA).
The expenses for operating these infrastructures remain a well-kept secret at Sonarges. Its chairman, Abdelkader Rabou, refrains from talking about these indicators and prefers instead to present himself in the ten-year plan of his structure. Our roadmap along with an ambitious business plan aims to breathe new life into the stadiums by creating repeat business and settling permanent leisure franchises around the stadiums. This will make it possible to turn them into real places of life and entertainment for the benefit of the public 7 days a week all year round”, he explains to us. And Sonarg’s ambitions do not stop there. He continues: “Our goal is to double our current portfolio within 10 years, which will make the scope of our intervention It reaches about ten stadiums in ten different regions of the Kingdom.”
So it is likely that the next stages that will be transferred to this company will include the Mohammed V complex, which attracts every desire. But right now, in the can, you hear the final whistle. Wydad will play the final of the African Champions League, which will be played in its stronghold in the same stadium. The audience is cheerful. New exploits and a new company that put into the background all the flaws of national football. Until the next scandal…