Sunday, June 16News That Matters

Morocco star Hakimi speaks out as FIFA ‘try to cover up footage’ of Infantino clash

Morocco star Achraf Hakimi has played down speculation that he was involved in a bust-up with Gianni Infantino after reports suggested FIFA were trying to cover up footage of an incident between the duo.

The incident took place in the aftermath of Morocco’s 2-1 World Cup third-place play-off defeat to Croatia, with the African team unhappy with the standard of refereeing during the game.

It is believed Hakimi confronted Infantino regarding decisions made by Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim in the game, which eventually ended 2-1 to Croatia after Orsic’s stunning goal after early strikes from Josko Gvardiol and Achraf Dari.

Hakimi is reported to have vented furiously towards Infantino and ‘shouted in his face’ about mistakes made by referees in the competition.

According to beIN Sports reporter Carrie Brown, it is said Hakimi was speaking to FIFA officials when he came across Infantino. It was then that he approached him with some choice words before he was led away by his Morocco team-mates.

The world football governing body have now attempted to play down the incident, which reportedly took place when FIFA president Infantino was waiting to give medals to Croatia players after the match.

SVT Sports reporter Johan Kucukaslan also claimed to have witnessed the exchange, saying that FIFA wanted to “delete the images” as “these are embarrassing scenes” for Infantino and the World Cup organisers.

But, PSG’s Hakimi said the incident had been blown out of proportion and he has now apologised to Infantino: “Nothing happened. I was angry after the end of the match,” Hakimi told reporters, via Arryadia TV.

“I went to talk to him, and I apologised for the words I said to him. He is my friend and I respect him a lot, so nothing happened.”

Hakimi and his Morocco team-mates felt hard done by after two decisions went against them at key moments during the match, leaving them to finish fourth after a shocking run to the semi-finals.

Walid Regragui’s side felt they should have won a penalty against Croatia after a handball shout against Bruno Petkovic went unpunished, which followed another controversial call in their defeat to France in the last four. 

The African team became the first from the continent to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup after beating Spain and Portugal in the knockout stage before falling at the penultimate hurdle to France.

It remains to be seen whether Hakimi will face any retrospective action for his exchange with Infantino or whether FIFA will address the incident.


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