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Morocco Win in World Cup Brings Celebration Across Africa and Middle East


Just after Achraf Hakimi dinked a penalty kick into the online in Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday evening, capping a significant upset that made Morocco the primary majority Arab team to qualify for a World Cup quarterfinal, a Moroccan journalist within the press box burst into tears.

A Moroccan security guard on the stadium hid his face in his hands. A roar went up in Casablanca, in Cairo, in Gaza City, in Algiers, in Riyadh, in Sana, in Paris, in Turin, and even in Madrid, the capital of the country that was presupposed to win not only this match, but perhaps even the entire tournament.

Nevertheless it was Morocco that had won as an alternative, sending thousands and thousands of Moroccans at home and in the worldwide diaspora right into a lung-emptying, horn-tooting, flag-waving frenzy. Their joyful yells were amplified by those of Arabs across the Middle East and beyond, whose Pan-Arab solidarity, if sometimes absent or muted on the subject of political matters, has thrived on a series of shock wins by Middle Eastern teams this tournament.

On Wednesday morning, having partied through the night, Moroccans in Casablanca were still congratulating each other.

“Congratulations to us,” they greeted one another, smiling. “Dima Maghreb!” — “At all times Morocco,” the rallying cry of Morocco fans. Their Parliament opened its Wednesday session with a rendition of the national anthem.

“My joy is indescribable,” said Zoubida Boutaleb, 40, a communications skilled in Casablanca and longtime soccer fan. “I’m still on cloud nine!”

For certain fans, the Disney-prince-like looks of Yassine “Bono” Bounou, the Moroccan goalkeeper who saved three Spanish penalty kicks at Tuesday’s match, can have contributed to the euphoria.

A Temporary Guide to the 2022 World Cup

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What’s the World Cup? The quadrennial event pits one of the best national soccer teams against one another for the title of world champion. Here’s a primer to the 2022 men’s tournament:

Where is it being held? This yr’s host is Qatar, which in 2010 beat the US and Japan to win the correct to carry the tournament. Whether that was an honest competition stays in dispute.

When is it? The tournament opened on Nov. 20, when Qatar played Ecuador. Over the 2 weeks that follow, 4 games might be played on most days. The tournament ends with the ultimate on Dec. 18.

Is a winter World Cup normal? No. The World Cup often takes place in July. But in 2015, FIFA concluded that the summer temperatures in Qatar might need unpleasant consequences and agreed to maneuver the tournament to the relatively bearable months of November and December.

What number of teams are competing? Thirty-two. Qatar qualified mechanically because the host, and after years of matches, the opposite 31 teams earned the correct to come back and play. Meet the teams here.

How does the tournament work? The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of 4. Within the opening stage, each team plays all the opposite teams in its group once. The highest two finishers in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.

How can I watch the World Cup within the U.S.? The tournament might be broadcast on Fox and FS1 in English, and on Telemundo in Spanish. You may livestream it on Peacock, or on streaming services that carry Fox and FS1. Here’s watch every match.

When will the games happen? Qatar is three hours ahead of London, eight hours ahead of Latest York and 11 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Which means there might be predawn kickoffs on the East Coast of the US for some games, and midafternoon starts for 10 p.m. games in Qatar.

Got more questions? We’ve got more answers here.

But the enjoyment had even overtaken the skilled dispassion of Moroccan sports journalists, several of whom took the microphone on the post-match news conference to pose questions that were more like mash notes to Mr. Bounou and Walid Regragui, the French-Moroccan coach, who keeps his remaining hair close-cropped and is fondly known to Moroccan fans as “avocado head.”

“I don’t have any query,” one said, happening to thank them for the victory. “I’m speaking, and I actually have tears in my eyes.”

Within the Spanish city of Murcia, home to a big community of individuals of Moroccan descent, the response was more two-sided.

A neighborhood Spanish far-right group posted a photograph on Twitter of a municipal constructing lit up in red and green, the colours of the Moroccan flag, saying that it will be demanding a proof from the mayor. By Wednesday morning, after a “popular outcry” and a “commotion,” the group announced, the City Council had switched off the lights. But local media later reported that the lights were actually meant to rejoice Christmas.

“It’s amazing to see all Moroccans pleased for once, especially after trying so a few years to succeed in this stage,” said Laila Berchane, 35, an entrepreneur within the Moroccan city of Casablanca, ticking off all of the triumphs and disappointments: 1986, when Morocco upset Portugal but then lost narrowly to West Germany; 1998, when it almost qualified for the knockout stage; 2018, when it lost to Portugal.

“Especially in a yr of economic uncertainties, global conflicts and recovering from the pandemic crisis,” she said, “this win was a lot needed.”

Morocco’s win was the fourth time on this World Cup that an Arab team had beaten a heavily favored opponent, including Saudi Arabia’s group-stage defeat of Argentina, Tunisia’s victory over France and Morocco’s own win over Belgium.

At a time when their leaders are divided or listless on the causes that used to unite them probably the most strongly, many Arabs and North Africans, who share a language (if one split into many dialects), a faith (generally), elements of a proud history and, often, a typical sense of injustices perpetrated by the West, seemed joined in a single regionwide cheer.

Neither the Saudis nor the Tunisians, nor the host Qatar, advanced to the round of 16, leaving the Moroccans to tackle the subsequent set of matches alone.

Once they won on Tuesday evening, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, wearing a red team jersey in Rabat, waved the Moroccan flag in celebration. So did the emir of Qatar, up in his V.V.V.I.P. box within the stadium. Egypt’s Cairo Tower lit up in red and green, and Iraq’s most distinguished Shiite leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, tweeted “Morocco hope for Arab victory” as a hashtag.

“The lions of the Atlas are the enjoyment of the Arab world,” blared the headline in Al-Ahram, Egypt’s flagship every day. “Morocco enters history after overthrowing the Spanish matador.”

One in every of Egypt’s foremost talk show hosts, Lamees el-Hadidi, also got in on the act on Tuesday evening.

“I, as an Arab and an African, am very pleased for Morocco,” she said on her show. “Arab streets from the ocean to the Gulf are cheering for Morocco.”

Many Africans, too, were rooting for the country within the continent’s northwestern corner.

“Africa United behind Morocco — the last man standing,” the Ugandan singer and politician Bobi Wine tweeted, together with an image of himself in a Morocco T-shirt.

This being the world’s most-watched event, where young men come to face for countries and causes find their way onto the pitch, politics have been within the background — or sometimes right on the fore — in several of the games involving Arab teams.

Colonial overtones were hard to flee within the match between one other North African nation, Tunisia, and France, wherein a former colony defeated its former colonizer, a favourite to win the tournament.

When Morocco played Spain, a minimum of one Twitter commentator labeled it the “Al-Andalus Derby,” referring to the incontrovertible fact that Muslims ruled Spain from the eighth to the eleventh centuries, when European Christians conquered a lot of the Iberian Peninsula.

But attention turned promptly to current events when the Moroccan players unveiled a Palestinian flag mid-celebration on Tuesday night.

Provided that their country’s government was one among the primary to normalize relations with Israel within the Trump administration-brokered agreements of 2020, the statement was all of the more pointed.

The Israeli defense minister, Benny Gantz, was amongst those that joined the net celebrations on Tuesday night, posting a tweet in Arabic that congratulated “our Moroccan friends.”

He was met with a cascade of photos of the Moroccan team holding the Palestinian flag.

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