The Club World Cup third-place match between Brazil’s Flamengo and Egypt’s Al Ahly planned to be held in Rabat before the final on Saturday has been moved to Tangier, FIFA said on Thursday.
Host country Morocco decided to switch the venue to preserve the pitch at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium for the final between Real Madrid and Al Hilal.
The decision, made 48 hours before the matches, caused confusion and anger among fans who made the trip to Morocco and now face a major logistical headache.
Around 15,000 Brazilian supporters who have travelled to Morocco and had to endure the disappointment of seeing South American champion Flamengo suffer a 3-2 upset loss to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the semifinals must decide whether to stay in Rabat for the final or to go to Tangier to watch their team.
“Fans who have bought tickets for the double-header will be informed shortly,” FIFA said in a statement.
“Special travel arrangements will be organised by ONCF, Morocco’s national railway operator, enabling those who want to watch the third-place match in Tangier to be able to do so.
“Ticket holders will be able to exchange their current tickets for new ones for the third-place match, or have the option to apply for a refund of existing tickets.”
According to Brazilian travel agency Outsider, 10 percent of their clients asked to go back home after the semifinal loss.
“FIFA’s decision left the fans in lost in translation,” Tatiana Ribeiro, from travel agency Ribeiro Viagens, told Reuters.
“You cannot change the location of an international tournament like this, out of nowhere. It’s the ultimate lack of respect to the fans that thought they would be seeing a double-header no matter the final was.
“Most of the flights booked by the Brazilians are on Sunday morning from Casablanca, which is only one hour away from Rabat. Tangier is a long four-hours drive. That is no time or flexibility to change hotel and flight reservations. It’s madness.”
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