Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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It all started with the simple question: How do you describe the Moroccan team, the Atlas Lions, which stunned the whole world by its sterling performance – defying the odds to beat heavyweights such as Spain and Portugal? The “first Arab” or “African” team to reach the semi-final?

Culturally many Moroccans see themselves more as Arabs than Africans – and some sub-Saharan Africans in Morocco complain that racist attitudes are never far from the surface.

But comments by Moroccan winger Sofiane Boufal after their World Cup victory over Spain brought the debate about the country’s continental identity to the fore. He thanked “all Moroccans all over the world for their support, to all Arab people, and to all Muslim people. This win belongs to you.”

After a social media backlash, he took to Instagram to apologise for not mentioning the African continent’s backing of the team – expressed at one stage by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari when he said Morocco had “made the entire continent proud with their grit and dexterity”.

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