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FIFA to spend $100 million on poorer nations

By Staff
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RABAT, Apr 30 (Reuters) FIFA aims to spend 100 million dollar on 250 soccer development projects in the next four years to stop poorer footballing countries falling further behind a rich elite, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said today.

FIFA's ''Goal'' programme, launched by Blatter in 1999, has already helped 181 national soccer associations to push through projects for technical centres, schools, pitches and administration buildings.

''The projects have breathed life into these associations and improved football,'' Blatter said in Rabat, where he was inaugurating a Moroccan youth training centre for which FIFA has contributed 0,000 dollar.

Hosni Benslimane, president of the Moroccan Football Federation, said the project would help to revive Moroccan soccer, which is suffering from a lack of funds and an uninterested public.

Fewer than 1,000 people turn out to watch the average Moroccan first division match and all but the top three teams are made up largely of amateurs.

The North African kingdom has failed five times to win the right to host the World Cup and was denied a place in Germany 2006 by arch-rivals Tunisia.

To reverse its fortunes before the South Africa World Cup in 2010, Morocco has launched a drive to train players, referees and coaches, modernise club buildings and lay out new pitches.

''This project to bring football up to scratch should result in a real professionalism in Morocco,'' Benslimane said.

REUTERS PDS RN2224

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