An animal rights organisation has blasted the Moroccan government for killing stray dogs ahead of a crucial visit from FIFA over the 2026 World Cup.
Tierbotschafter, a Swiss charity, posted the shocking footage of stray dogs being rounded up and shot dead by officials.
The video footage, made last week in the coastal resort of Agadir, shows a dog falling injured to the ground.
A crowd gathers around the dog, after which a man drags its lifeless body away.
The NGO also posted pictures of patches of blood on the city streets, as well as a distressing image of dozens of dead dogs piled high by the authorities.
Tierbotschafter said the violence was unnecessary as many of the animals had just been vaccinated and castrated as part of a programme to humanely control the population.
Many of the dogs still show the earmark attached by the Swiss organisation noting that they had been vaccinated and castrated.
Tierbotschafter chief Brigitte Post said she was shocked about the “clean-up operation” by the Moroccan authorities.
Post said: “Since that night [last week Thursday] dozens of dogs from our castration and vaccination programme have been shot, injured or taken away in a lorry while still alive.”
She said that the streets are being “cleaned up” by the Moroccan authorities to leave a good impression on a visiting FIFA delegation.
Post said: “In a flagship project in and around Agadir, we castrated over a thousand dogs, vaccinated against rabies, tagged them with an ear tag and returned them to their territory.”
Post is especially angry as the project was supported by the city of Agadir.
She said: “Dog killing has proven to be pointless – neither the number of stray dogs nor those infected with rabies fall.”
A foreign national living for many years in the Agadir area said he witnessed the scenes.
He said: “I woke up to the sound of gunshots. Around 30 to 40 armed men started shooting dogs in the middle of the town, regardless of whether or not they were labelled with ear tags as vaccinated and neutered.”
According to the man, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of the authorities, the gunmen even shot a park keeper’s dog that was on a lead.
He said that anyone who tried to take pictures or stop the gunmen from shooting was threatened or arrested.
The man said: “So we foreigners organised a rescue operation with the local population to accommodate as many dogs as possible in private homes.”
He said that the fact that many tourists have now reported about the action online is making the authorities nervous.
The man said: “Because FIFA does nothing against the killings, it is partly responsible.”
A FIFA spokesman said that the worldwide football organisation is in contact with the authorities of Moroccan cities and expects that these will ensure animal welfare.
The spokesman said: “However, we cannot comment on Morocco, because the application process for the World Cup 2026 is running and a statement could influence this.”
Morocco has only one opponent in their bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup: a joint North American bid from Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Last week, the South American football organisation CONMEBOL said they would all vote for the North American bid.
The bid which gets a majority of FIFA members behind it wins the right to organise the tournament.
As the decisions to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 bid to Qatar were marred by fierce criticism and corruption allegations, FIFA have decided that the 2026 vote will be held in public.
On 13th June 2018, the 69th FIFA Congress in Moscow will decide which is the winning bid.