Morocco wants to diplomatically capitalize on its brilliant career at the 2022 World Cup

Morocco wants to diplomatically capitalize on its brilliant career at the 2022 World Cup

The unprecedented wave of support that accompanied the Atlas Lions throughout their journey to the semi-finals, a historic feat for an Arab or African country, seems to have been increased tenfold by the attachment to the Palestinian cause displayed by Moroccan players and supporters in Qatar with a lot of Palestinian flags waved on the lawn and in the stands.

Criticized at home and by the Arab street since normalization with Israel in December 2020, the Cherifian kingdom indeed appeared, during the World Cup, as the herald of the Palestinians during this planetary event broadcast live around the world.

At the same time, he pulled the rug out from under his great Algerian rival, an unwavering supporter of the Palestinian cause, which does not prevent him from strengthening his ties with the Jewish state.

According to Tajeddine Housseini, professor of international relations, normalization with Israel “nephewYou can’t say that Morocco has turned its back on the Palestinian cause”.

“Soft power”

“The national team and its supporters have only confirmed this in Qatar. Besides, I believe that the Palestinians are the only people to have improvised songs to the glory of the Moroccan team”he observes.

the “Moroccan Front for Support for Palestine and Against Normalization” did not fail to salute “Moroccan heroes and their supporters displaying the Palestinian flag”, seeing in it “the best expression of the solid brotherhood that binds the two peoples”..

Beyond Morocco’s status in Arab public opinion, “Morocco’s extraordinary career in this world championship obviously gives an excellent image of the country which has been using +soft power+ for several years to assert its international presence”explains to AFP Moncef El Yazghi, specialist in sports policies.

“Long before the World Cup, Morocco bet on football diplomacy towards African countries with more than 30 cooperation agreements with African federations”notes Mr. El Yazghi.

From Cape Town to Dakar, and from Tunis to Doha, the Moroccan team, which lost in the semi-final against France, made Arab and African crowds proud.

Even in Algeria, if the official media almost ignored the performances of the Moroccans, the population applauded their exploits.

“Morocco is the first African, Islamic and colonized country in the 20th century to reach this level in the World Cup”note for AFP Pierre Vermeren, specialist in contemporary Morocco and the Maghreb.

“Priceless Visibility”

“Attention was captured by this unprecedented and unexpected selection, which allowed Morocco to win a major symbolic victory over Algeria, but also a symbolic, sporting and political revenge on its neighbors: Spain, Portugal and France (despite its defeat)”says the historian.

Morocco had dreamed for decades of playing in the big leagues, he underlines, “this time it is”.

“There are thousands of articles on the most prestigious press media that highlight the kingdom and its football team. A gold mine in terms of +soft power+ and influence on a global scale”exulted the economic site M├ędias24.

An economic gold mine too?

“It’s an excellent opportunity that we must seize”told AFP Lahcen Zelmat, president of the National Federation of the Hotel Industry (FNIH).

“The exploits of the national team, but also the extraordinary image given by the Moroccan public, give us invaluable visibility with billions of viewers”believes Mr. Zelmat.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, this World Cup has aroused unprecedented interest in Morocco, particularly among opinion leaders who have praised the epic of the Atlas Lions. Unexpected publicity.

“Morocco was obviously known in Western Europe but not necessarily among tourists in Asia or Latin America. Today, it is known all over the world”opines the boss of the FNIH.

However, the kingdom’s image could be tarnished by an alleged corruption scandal in the European Parliament in which, according to MEPs and European newspapers, Morocco is involved, alongside Qatar.