King of Morocco suspends sports minister from Club World Cup duties

Last Saturday, players from Cruz Azul and Australian team Western Sydney Wanderers were slipping and sliding through pools of water on the field after a heavy downpour.

Matthew Childs/Action Images

RABAT, Morocco —

The king of Morocco suspended the country’s sports minister of his duties for the Club World Cup on Friday and ordered an investigation into the state of the soccer field at Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat after heavy rain disrupted a match.

Last Saturday, players from Mexican club Cruz Azul and Australian team Western Sydney Wanderers were slipping and sliding through pools of water on the field after a heavy downpour.

The international players’ union asked FIFA for an investigation, describing the conditions as dangerous. Subsequent matches were moved to Marrakech.

The state of the field has been seen as a national embarrassment after the entire complex had recently been upgraded at a cost of $25 million.

The order by King Mohammed VI, which was issued in a palace statement carried by the state news agency, came after a week of uproar.

Sports Minister Mohammed Ouzzine had faulted Spanish company Valtech for its work on the field. The company responded that it was a drainage issue and they had warned the field was not yet ready.

Two of Ouzzine’s deputies directly involved with the stadium were already suspended by the minister himself, who declined to attend a parliamentary hearing over the incident.

The suspension also means Ouzzine will not attend the final match in Marrakech as planned. The minister will continue to perform his other duties, however.