By IWU-FI Press
7 December 2022. Team Morocco pulled off the shock of eliminating Spain from the World Cup in Qatar. By 3-0 in the penalty shoot-out series. And for the first time, they qualify for the quarter-finals.
The Moroccan team defeated their former colonial oppressor in football. Morocco gained political independence from Spain on 2 March 1956. Although Spain still keeps the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.
The highlight was that the players celebrated on the pitch with Palestinian flags.
Sympathy for the struggle of the Palestinian people is a constant feature of this World Cup. Football fans have been displaying large pro-Palestinian banners in almost every stadium in Qatar. And there is also a big boycott of the Israeli media.
At the Al-Yanub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, Tunisian fans had raised a banner with the Palestinian flag, including a legend that read: “Free Palestine”.
The role of the Moroccan players is noteworthy. But it is part of a traditional sympathy of the Moroccan people with the Palestinian cause that has traditionally been reflected in the stands of their league matches. Songs in honour of the Palestinian struggle against Zionism are sung en masse.
Popular sentiment contrasts with the policies of the country’s dictatorial monarchy. The monarch Mohammed VI practises a double talk. He claims to support the Palestinian cause but has political, economic, and military ties and agreements with the racist Zionist state of Israel. Morocco officially recognised Israel in December 2020. It became the second North African country, after Egypt in 1978, to recognise the state of Israel. In August, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords, under the aegis of former US President Donald Trump.
Morocco’s rapprochement with Israel was a double victory: on the one hand, it gained a powerful ally to strengthen its rivalry with Algeria; it got the United States to recognise the “Moroccans” of the Sahara. And the current US president, Joe Biden, has not backed down (much to the anger of the Saharawis, who have been abandoned more than ever).
The Sahrawi people have been resisting for decades in Western Sahara, demanding national independence and recognition as a country. They are leading an armed popular resistance led by the Polisario Front against the Moroccan armed forces that have occupied part of their territory.