At their first World Cup in 20 years, Morocco have a horrible set of results to show for efforts on and off the field.

Fifa's public condemnation of winger Noureddine Amrabat for questioning the integrity of an American referee added to a sense of national injustice over a tough nine days in Russia.

The first team eliminated from contention at this tournament often outplayed Portugal and Iran but have no points after two 1-0 losses.

Neither will Morocco host the 2026 World Cup. Impressive late lobbying in Moscow last week failed to overcome the United States-Canada-Mexico bid clearly favoured by Fifa leadership. Football's world governing body has continued to be tough on Morocco since its member federations voted to give the North Americans a clear win on the eve of the tournament.


Morocco was also criticised this week by Fifa for "questionable handling" of a suspected concussion case - again involving Amrabat.

The World Cup experience has left the North African nation little to cheer.

"The one thing I am sure of is that the whole Moroccan people are very proud of their team," coach Herve Renard said on Wednesday after losing to Portugal.

Many of around 25,000 Morocco fans at Luzhniki Stadium, and more back home, vented about what they saw as unfair refereeing decisions.

The coach's angry response to one challenge led to a lecture from referee Mark Geiger for demanding a video review to award a penalty.

That incident also centred on Amrabat, whose claim in a post-game television interview infuriated Fifa. The Morocco player said Pepe told him Geiger asked to get the Portugal defender's shirt after the game.

"Fifa unequivocally condemns the allegations," the governing body said in a strong rebuttal. "Fifa would like to remind all teams of their duty to respect all principles of fair play."

Days earlier, Fifa noted the "questionable handling" by Morocco staff of Amrabat's head injury against Iran after crashing face first to the turf.

It happened late in a game Iran won deep in stoppage time when Morocco forward Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net.

Medical staff trying to get Amrabat back in action slapped his cheeks while lifting him to his feet like a groggy boxer.

"Fifa will address this matter with the Moroccan [Football Federation]," Fifa said about Morocco's decision to select Amrabat again five days later.

Defying widespread concerns, Renard described Amrabat as a warrior and the player suggested he was best placed to judge his fitness.

Morocco's final Group B game is on Tuesday against Spain, their near neighbours in Europe who could be part of a shared World Cup future.

Within hours of the 2026 vote defeat, Moroccan King Mohammed VI ordered a renewed campaign to secure the 2030 tournament.

There is speculation Morocco could team with Spain and Portugal in a three-nation bid that, while making geographical sense, would need Fifa to allow hosting across continents.

After five failed bids since the 1980s, nothing seems to come easy for Morocco in the World Cup.

- AP