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Morocco: Controversy Over the Wage of New National Football Manager

Football is a very popular sport in Morocco. So much so that the Football Association there is apparently ready to disburse a large sum of money to acquire a new coach for the national football team (nicknamed Lions of the Atlas). Since the national team's debacle in the qualification competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the local football association started looking for ways to remedy the poor results and improve the team's performance. Negotiations started with Belgian manager Eric Gerets, who was later officially named Morocco's coach [Fr]. Football officials refused, however, to disclose the contract terms and more specifically the amount of money the association agreed to pay the new manager. The Moroccan Minister of Sports questioned in the parliament about the new coach's wage denied figures purported in the media [Ar]. Rumors have it that a record wage has been agreed upon, making Gerets the best paid national manager in the world, second only to Britain's Fabio Capello, much to the dismay of some bloggers who have been commenting on the news. For as much as the sport is venerated in the country, many believe the money should be spent more wisely.

Local Footbal Team by Wonker in Flickr

Abdelhamid from Qalam Tha'ir is shocked by the wage [Ar] the new manager will purportedly be offered. He writes:

بعد تسرب أولى أخبار التفاوض مع البلجيكي علت أصوات الإعلاميين و المهتمين و المواطنين المغاربة منددة بهاته الخطوة، و لم تكن كفاءة الربان الجديد هي ما أجج نار الاعتراض, لأن الرجل و الحق يقال يملك سيرة ذاتية متميزة […] و لكن الجميع توقف عند قيمة الأجر الذي سيتقاضاه وفقا لعقده مع الجامعة، و الذي سيصل إلى 3 ملايير من السنتيمات سنويا [أي ما يعادل 3,4 مليون دولار أمريكي سنوياً].
صحيح أننا شعب يعشق كرة القدم حتى النخاع و يعتبرها أهم من أي شيء آخر كيفما كانت قيمته، و لكننا في نفس الوقت أمة تنتمي لبلدان العالم الثالث يرزح معظم سكانها تحت عتبة الفقر و تعاني من مظاهر البطالة و الفقر و الجهل المتجذرين منذ الأزل.
من المفارقات العجيبة التي تثير الضحك أكثر من أي شيء آخر هو أن كل مدربي منتخبات العالم باستثناء كابيلو يتقاضون أقل بكثير مما سيتقاضاه جيريتس، حتى إيطاليا و ألمانيا و إسبانيا و الأرجنتين و البرازيل تخصص ميزانيات أقل للتعاقد مع مدربيها رغم أنها تملك من الإمكانيات ما يتجاوزنا بكثير، و لكن الفرق هو أنها اتحادات تفكر بطريقة احترافية و تحترم أساسيات الممارسة الكروية السليمة، و تحترم – و هذا هو المهم – عقول مواطنيها.

After the first news was leaked about negotiations with the Belgian coach, the media and citizens started protesting the step. The fire was not fueled by the skills of the new manager whose reputation is good, […] but it was about the amount of money he will be receiving from the Football Association, and which will reach 3 billion centimes a year (3.4 million U.S. dollars annually).
It is true that we Moroccan people are passionate about football, that we consider it priceless and more important than anything else, but at the same time, we belong to the third world and most of the population here lives below the poverty line and suffers from unemployment, poverty and ignorance rooted since a long time.
Ironically, all football managers in the world, with the exception of [Britain's] Capello, are paid much less than what Gerets will get. Even Italy, Germany, Spain, Argentina and Brazil allocate lesser budgets to pay their national trainers, although they have the ability to give them more. But the difference is that these countries have associations run in a professional manner and in respect for the most basic and sound football practices, and more importantly, in respect for the intelligence of their citizens.

Anas from Big Brother Maroc wonders why so much secrecy [Fr] is surrounding the salary of the new coach. He writes:

Quel est le point commun entre le salaire d'Eric Gerets et les nouveaux avions de l'armée Marocaine ? Le secret défense ? Même pas ! On connait le budget des avions, mais pas de Gerets ! […]
Mais pourquoi donc tout le monde évite de parler de ce salaire ? ou est le mal en nous disant, chiffres à l'appui, voici combien nous coutera Gerets ?

What is the common denominator between Eric Gerets’ salary and the new war planes the military have just acquired? Military secrecy? It's not even that! We know the budget for the aircrafts, but know nothing about Gerets’ wage! […]
But why avoid talking about the salary? What's wrong with telling us the truth, support it by figures and explain how much Gerets will cost us at the end?

Citoyen Hmida [Fr] thinks officials in charge of football in his country need a reality check. He writes:

A ce tarif, le nouvel entraîneur des « Lions » de l’Atlas sera payé :
Cinq fois plus que Raymond Domemech, coach de l’équipe de France.
Autant que Marcello Lipi, entraîneur de la Squadra Azzura.
Mieux que 29 des 32 entraîneurs nationaux présents au Mondial 2010.
Donc à vue d’œil, l’élu de la FRMF aura largement de quoi être « heureux » !
[…]
Le football national est malade de l’intérieur. Il souffre d’une gestion calamiteuse au niveau des clubs et de la fédération ! Il est victime de l’argent et des magouilles ! Il a perdu ses repères et son âme ! Ce n’est pas la venue d’un nouveau « messie » étranger qui le sauvera.

At this rate, the new coach of the Lions of the Atlas will be paid five times more than [former] French manager Domemech Raymond, as much as Marcello Lipi the Italian coach and better than 29 out of 32 national coaches attending the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
[…]
Moroccan football is sick from within. It suffers from poor management at national and international levels. It is the victim of money and dirty tricks! It's lost its standards and its soul! Surely the arrival of a supposedly “messiah” from abroad will not solve the problem.

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