Sports

Morocco Loses Bid To Host the 2026 World Cup to Joint North American Pact

Global politics and infrastructure concerns may have dulled Morocco's chances of becoming the second African country to host the World Cup in its 88 year history.

Morocco has lost its bid to host the next World Cup, BBC Sport reports.

Earlier this morning, 200 FIFA members gathered at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow to vote between Morocco and a joint bid between Canada, Mexico and the United States known as the "United 2026" bid, which ultimately won the rights to host the games with 134 votes compared to Morocco's 65. Ghana, whose soccer association was disbanded last week following a BBC exposé that revealed rampant corruption, was notably absent from voting.

People on social media have noted that a number of fellow African nations who were present voted against Morocco, which many believe is due to the ongoing Western Sahara conflict. The full list of votes has been published on FIFA's website.

"United 2026"

The 2026 games are set to be the biggest yet, according to BBC Sport, 48 teams will play 80 matches over the span of 34 days.

"United 2026" will mark the first time that the tournament will be hosted by three separate nations.There will be a total of 16 host cities, 10 in the United States and the rest split evenly between Canada and Mexico.

Morocco's Bidding History

This was Morocco's fifth time bidding to host the World Cup. Their latest bid was plagued early on when members of FIFA's bid evaluation task force ran an investigation into an alleged conflict of interest involving FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura and Morocco's bid ambassador El Hadji Diouf who were thought to be undeclared relatives. She was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

The task force also raised concerns about "lack of infrastructure," as 14 of the stadiums included in Morocco's proposal were yet to be built.

"I wish to congratulate Fifa for the conduct of this process and congratulate the president for what he has done in order to move things towards more transparency and more inclusion," said Morocco's Football Federation president Fouzi Lekjaa.

"I would like to reaffirm the determination of my country to continue to work for football and realise one day our dream to host the World Cup in Morocco."

South Africa remains the only African nation to have hosted the games in its 88 year history.

More from around the web:

"World Cup 2026: Canada, US & Mexico joint bid wins right to host tournament"

"Moroccan World Cup Bid Could Stem African Migration"

"Western Sahara conflict impacts Morocco 2026 World Cup bid"

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Madonna Wears Moroccan Attire During Cringe-Worthy Aretha Franklin Tribute at VMAs—Gets Dragged

"Madonna REALLY went out there in her best cultural appropriation outfit to talk about Queen Aretha Franklin?"

UPDATE 08/21/18: Madonna has released a statement explaining her highly-scrutinized speech at the VMAs. Read it below. " I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show,"she wrote on Instagram. "I could never do her justice in this context or environment."

Read her full statement below.


Continue for the full story:

The MTV Video Music Awards went down last night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

As usual, it was a night of fashion, performances, celebrity appearances, overall bizarre happenings, and of course, candid social media reactions to all of those things.

One moment that had folks typing away, was pop megastar Madonna's "tribute" to the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Except it wasn't really a tribute to the Queen of Soul.

During her speech, she told a long-winded story about how the late soul icon had basically made her career what it is today, while wearing traditional Moroccan clothing, including a flowing black caftan and a heap of Berber jewelry, which she most likely picked up during her 60th birthday celebration in Morocco last week. She took to Instagram to document the festivities, even referring to herself as a "Berber Queen," despite not actually being a Berber Queen at all.

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I.R.O.K. Photo: Mike TItle.

Hear Morocco's Young Experimental Electronic Music Scene In This New EP

I.R.O.K. teams up with the Moroccan electronic label V.I.V. for this entrancing new EP and remixes.

London-based outfit The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo (I.R.O.K.) is teaming up with Moroccan label and collective V.I.V. for the new single "Ich Will Nach Hause Gehen."

The new song, which I.R.O.K's half-Moroccan frontman, Mike Title, describes as a "a psychotropic Saharan rave banger" is being released in an EP that features remixes from young Moroccan producers across Casablanca, Meknes, and Rabat.

Mike compares the blistering new track to "the feeling of that fine line between having the time of your life and being trapped, unable to ever go home."

As I.R.O.K, he played gigs in theatres, town squares, pirate DVD stores and beaches across Morocco while working on this new track, so it made sense to partner with V.I.V., a label formed to showcase the wave of electronic music that is emerging from bedrooms across North Africa, for its release.

Below, we talk to Mike and V.I.V co-founder Simoh about the new EP.

Who is I.R.O.K.?

Mike Title: I.R.O.K. is The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo. An altered state in that moment of delirious joy. It is driving that impulse to the point where neither recklessness nor certainty have any meaning. It's blood and noise on tape. Music, LIVE MUSIC. The new album is filled with love. When you come see us play in the dark it's so live, that we take you with us like no one else can. It's super raw.

What are your ties to Morocco?

Mike Title: I'm half-Moroccan, my grandfather is from the mountains that I'm sitting on as I type this. I'm in a windowless bar drinking Ricard in thick plumes of smoke. Violent angles of Berber music is blasting off the tiles. In the mornings I've been drinking thick black coffee in a haze, higher than the clouds up here in the Atlas. This is where I return so that I can be happy to leave. Morocco inspires me to make music in its humour; the dancing; the drums; the weather; the magic; the openness of spirit...everything.

What is the V.I.V. collective and its mission?

Simoh: V.I.V. is a label/collective of artists and producers from Casablanca founded by myself, Simoh EL HAMMOUMI, Rayane KARA, Simo BENMANSOUR and Ham ROBATI on July 15th, 2017. Its aim for now is to bring together non-established Moroccan artists, DJs and producers to present their own brand of music and art to a Moroccan audience. We wish to create a self-sustaining music scene in Morocco, teaming up with artists, promoters, venues, media, and event organisers for Moroccan music artists to strive forwards with their art.

More than a collective, V.I.V. is a concept. The idea that there can be an alternative music scene in Morocco. We have educated ourselves on the basis of sound itself and its protean nature, its geography and its sonic iterations. As artists we all like different things but we share the same kink for alternative music and an avid sensibility towards experimentation.

What are young Moroccans listening to these days? Is electronic music big there right now?

Simoh: There's definitely a tradition set in stone where young Moroccans listen to Arab music: Chaabi, Gnawa or Rai. That won't change any time soon.

The young Moroccan male mostly listens to rap. Rap speaks to us more than politics or hope. There is a recent rise of young, Moroccan rappers. Today, the rap scene is healthier than ever and our own young "trap" artists have made the scene even more popular than soccer.

The experimental electronic music scene is what V.I.V. Collective is a part of. It's mostly a bilingual community, as mostly people from the educated parts of society are pushing it forward. Moroccan society is divided by language—a large portion of us are illiterate. Speaking two languages (Darija + French or English) is a luxury. I hope that our scene can widen its scope of entry but, regardless of demographics, electronic music is becoming more popular. People are getting more exposed to it and they want to participate in different ways. Those abroad are also getting curious about what's happening. The scene is growing very fast and it's young passionate people driving it.

Tell us about the four young producers who remixed the single—Rayane Kara, Realm, Imane el Halouat, and Sumo Hamed.

Simoh: Rayane and Simo (Sumo Hamed) are like brothers to me and are co-founders of V.I.V. We are a team, a gang and focused on our project to reach as many people as we can. We created V.I.V. with Hamza (our Art Director) to give a voice to marginalised Moroccan artists and we are based in Casablanca and Rabat.

Imane and Soufiane (REALM) are artists who we have wanted to collaborate with for a while. REALM has an amazing EP coming out soon by the way! He's based in Casablanca. Imane is from Meknes and has just moved to France. She's super talented and hopefully will inspire other young women in North Africa to make music by themselves.

Each artist has reworked the song in their own way on this EP. It carries "the feeling of that fine line between having the time of your life and being trapped, unable to ever go home" as Mike says. it is something that resonated very deeply with us.
We're working with I.R.O.K. on this project to extend and shift the Moroccan sound. Sumo's catchy weirdness or Realm's hypnotic drums take the song different places. Imane offers a naked stripped back take. Rayane has a knack for creeping emotion.

I.R.O.K. have such spirit that it overflows on their track. It's full of heart. I think those are all notions rarely covered in Morocco and it's nice to take on that twisted perspective.

Photo: Mike Title.

Are there other similar electronic music labels and collectives popping up in Morocco?

Simoh: There's a handful but we all have different objectives. I think we're really focusing on Morocco as opposed to others who may have their sights on Europe. Not that we don't want to limit ourselves. We all have our own vision and avoid stepping on each other's toes. I want to make it that we help each other and work together but the modern world seems against it maybe. I do recommend our great friends Casa Voyager who release electro on vinyl. Really cool stuff.

Mike, you traveled to Morocco during the time you were making this new recording. How did being there influence this track:

Mike Title: I love Berber music from the '70s and '80s; the sound of it, how it's recorded live, the tape compression, the yearning in the vocals, the female refrains. It's designed to envelop you in trance. I like to try and get horizontal and watch the way everything moves and is connected. I don't try to find any of it on YouTube, it wouldn't sound right.

I have been back and forth to Morocco all my life and music is now making this adventure deeper for me. In the region I travel to the most, people know me now. They know what I'm about and talk to me about the shows we have done or people we know in common. They seem either happy to see me or laugh at how ridiculous I am. That's life. Some days strangers stare and sometimes I can become invisible. Berbers are the original time travelers, that's what they tell me. Im learning to breathe easily but every single day that passes I feel like I have less and less connection with the physical world. I imagine that this may wear off. In Morocco I have made connections that make me understand who I am and what I want. As soon as my feet hit the ground out here, something switches in me, like . Space Mountain. If I go down the pub in London and I'm watching the football or if I'm wandering down into a valley absorbing sun and pollen: neither is separated from the other. I'm both.

The shadow of Brexit though has made me, for the first time in my life, question how proud I am of being British. All this in a time where technology makes the notion of my identify more confused than ever.

Catch The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo live in London this Friday, December 8. Full event info here.

Photo: Mike Title

Interview
Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

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