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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 May, 2004, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Morocco blames Blatter
Moroccan fans in Casablanca
Moroccans show their disappointment in Casablanca
Moroccan officials expressed their disappointment on Saturday at South Africa winning the vote to host the 2010 World Cup.

They accused Fifa president Sepp Blatter of having played a "deciding" role in the vote.

Morocco were seen as the main threat to South Africa in a bid to become both the first African and first Arab country to host the finals.

But their hopes were dashed in the first round of voting as the Fifa executive voted 14-10 in favour of South Africa with no votes going to the other remaining candidate Egypt.

Blatter used all his weight to influence the outcome
Said Nejjar
Moroccan 2010 bid member
"Blatter used all his weight to influence the outcome of the vote," Said Nejjar, a member of the Morocco 2010 organising committee, said.

"He is the master of Fifa and decides everything," Nejjar fumed.

Moroccans were glued to their television sets at home, in cafes and even at hospital wards when Fifa chief Sepp Blatter announced that South Africa had won.

Saad Kettani, the head of the Morocco bid, weighed his words more carefully.

"We're not disappointed because we ran a worthy campaign. Billions of TV viewers saw the quality of our presentation yesterday but the final decision is made by 24 people.

Moroccans in a bar
Some Moroccans gathered in bars to watch the World Cup decision on TV
"We respect the decision and we wish South Africa good luck."

Blatter responded angrily to the assertion by a Moroccan journalist that he was anti-Moroccan.

"I refuse to accept this sort of comment. This is the Fifa year of Fairplay and I'm the president of all the federations.

"I have no preference for one or the other."

King Mohammed VI, however, sent a message of congratulations to South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Communications minister Nabil Benabdellah also sent his congratulations but insisted Morocco would force ahead to develop its football infrastructure.

"You have to maintain the spirit of sport in this world and be fair about things," he said.

"The important thing is that the World Cup will take place in Africa."

SA wins 2010 vote
15 May 04  |  African
SA World Cup delight
15 May 04  |  African
Morocco: 'We are risk free'
14 May 04  |  African

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