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HomeSportsMorocco International Cup squad arrives to heroes’ welcome

Morocco International Cup squad arrives to heroes’ welcome

RABAT: Tens of hundreds of Moroccans thronged the capital on Tuesday to welcome house their nationwide soccer group, the primary Arab or African squad ever to succeed in the semi-final of a International Cup. The group and their trainer Walid Regragui waved from an open-topped bus as they had been pushed from the airport and round central Rabat, accompanied via dozens of police automobiles and motorbikes with flashing lighting and wailing sirens.

The group cheered and a few waved flares as fireworks crackled within the sky over the seashore capital, AFP correspondents mentioned. “I’m so happy with our group. Who is aware of – perhaps subsequent time they might win the cup,” mentioned Adam Najah, a 27-year-old waiter from town of Meknes. He mentioned he had travelled over 150 kilometers to “enjoy this ancient day” and “rejoice the gorgeous tale of Morocco on the International Cup”.

Many supporters, clad within the group’s kits and waving purple flags, had waited hours to peer their heroes. “I will’t describe my pleasure! They made us Moroccans, Arabs and Africans proud,” mentioned Abdeljabbar Bouroua, 54, because the bus handed thru central Rabat. Morocco completed best of a gaggle together with Croatia and Belgium, who got here 3rd on the 2018 International Cup, prior to knocking out Spain and Portugal to succeed in the remaining 4.

The Atlas Lions misplaced Saturday’s 3rd position play-off 2-1 in opposition to 2018 runners-up Croatia, however captured the creativeness in Qatar. “I’d have appreciated to take them in my hands and kiss them,” mentioned 19-year-old regulation scholar Leila Messour, who got here to observe the group together with her pals. “They handed via briefly however we noticed them – I haven’t been so satisfied for a very long time.”

The group later headed to the royal palace, the place they had been won via King Mohammed VI “in reputation of the ancient fulfillment”. The king, along crown prince Moulay Hassan, passed out awards to the president of the Moroccan soccer federation, the group trainer and the gamers, nation’s nationwide information company MAP reported. The gamers’ moms additionally accompanied them to the palace, MAP added, pronouncing it was once in reputation in their efforts to “instill of their youngsters the values of patriotism, sacrifice and nationwide belonging”.

Diplomatic features

Morocco is hoping its unheard of International Cup exploits can assist it win pals and affect other people, particularly amongst an Arab public antagonistic to its 2020 rapprochement with Zionists. Reinforce for the Atlas Lions surged as they battled their technique to the semi-final of the soccer International Cup in Qatar – the primary Arab or African group ever to get up to now. Their reputation at the Arab boulevard was once helped via gamers and supporters brandishing Palestinian flags following Moroccan victories, to be observed via tens of millions of reside TV audience international.

That during flip was once a diplomatic coup for Morocco in opposition to arch-rival and neighbor Algeria, which for many years had observed itself as North Africa’s major champion of the Palestinian reason. Simply two years in the past, Rabat sparked grievance around the Arab international for re-establishing ties with Zionists. However global family members knowledgeable Tajeddine Houssaini mentioned the settlement, a part of a string of US-mediated normalization offers, “doesn’t imply that Morocco has became its again at the Palestinian reason”. “The nationwide group and the supporters most effective showed that during Qatar,” he mentioned, noting that Palestinians had even made up chants glorifying the Moroccan group.

Soccer international relations

Morocco’s diplomatic features move well past the Palestinian reason and the Arab international. “Morocco’s odd run within the International Cup in fact burnished the picture of the rustic, which has been the use of comfortable energy for years to make its mark at the global level,” mentioned sports activities politics knowledgeable Moncef El Yazghi. The dominion already had a observe report of the use of “soccer international relations” to spice up its ties with African international locations, signing no less than 30 cooperation offers with different federations, he added. Morocco’s successful streak amassed excited enthusiasts from South Africa to Tunisia, the place supporters unnoticed a simmering diplomatic spat with Rabat over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Even in rival Algeria, the place the problem is much more hotly contested, the general public took the Atlas Lions to center – although respectable media retailers stored quiet concerning the group’s achievements. The squad’s surprising good fortune has “grabbed other people’s consideration”, French historian Pierre Vermeren mentioned. “This has given Morocco a big symbolic victory over Algeria – but additionally symbolic, carrying and political revenge in opposition to its neighbors,” he mentioned, bringing up wins over within sight Portugal in addition to Spain. Morocco has been dreaming for many years of enjoying with the massive groups, “and now it’s turn out to be a truth”, he added.

Tourism to learn?

Morocco can also be hoping to transform its raised profile into financial features, particularly for tourism. The field is without doubt one of the nation’s best employers, however it was once battered via the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide financial downturn exacerbated via Russia’s warfare in Ukraine. The dominion has but to peer a go back to the 13 million guests it welcomed in 2019. Lahcen Zelmat, head of the FNIH nationwide resorts federation, mentioned Morocco had an “superb alternative”. The group’s successes “have given us nice visibility”, he mentioned, noting Morocco was once “acquainted for Western Europeans however now not essentially amongst Asian or Latin American vacationers”. “As of late it’s identified all over the international, however we can wish to paintings laborious to benefit from this surprising exposure.”

Whilst footballing victories quickly distracted many Moroccans from their financial woes, the birthday party for the Atlas Lions – who returned house on Tuesday – will quickly be over. Whether or not the rustic’s International Cup journey could have a long-lasting impact at the nation’s financial system is still observed. In contemporary days, Morocco’s symbol has rather been tarnished as Belgian police examine allegations the dominion and Qatar purchased affect within the Eu Parliament. International Cup Qatar host has denied any wrongdoing, whilst Morocco has presented no respectable reaction. – AFP



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