Morocco’s national football team was the first African team ever to qualify for the World Cup. That was back in 1970, since then the Lions of Atlas, qualified 5 times. That may not sound much for European football spoiled ears, but let me explain the football craze in this country and its positive effects on the society. Safe to say that football became the most popular sport in all African countries. But football in Morocco takes an outstanding role not only because of their pioneering role at a World Cup. In 1986 Morocco managed to enter the second round as the first African country ever by a draw against the English lions of the north and an unexpected win over Portugal. Unfortunately the team could not repeat that win this time.
Nevertheless for Moroccans entering the World Cup’s group stage already counts as a win. Even King Mohammad IV gave his congratulations to trainer and team. And there is no reason to worry for Moroccan fans. Within the last year the country’s national team not only qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 20 years, but already won the African Nations Championship and the Moroccan club Wydad won both the Champions League and the Super Cup. That’s remarkable and it doesn’t come as a surprise that the country is in a collective football paroxysm of joy.
Football for Education and Intercultural Understanding
In light of Morocco’s participation at the World Cup let’s have a look at the cultural effects of the sport on the country. The one thing the world can agree on is the World Cup and its unique ability to bring people from so many different countries together. Besides the Olympic Games it is the most important sports event on earth and – most people would agree – the most fun event after all!
Everyone speaks the language of sports. This wisdom not only applies among countries. For a multicultural country like Morocco football supports cultural exchange within its ethnical groups. The love for the game let the majority of Moroccan fans sit together in cafes, enjoying and more important – discussing the game. Morocco is a highly verbal culture, that’s their preferred way of public viewing. At a closer look you will find certain forms of cultural exchange coming with it. You have to keep in mind that Morocco is a country full of different cultural backgrounds, various religions, patriarchic traditions and an illiteracy rate at one third of the population. So the universal approach of football might ease some tensions.
Football fans do not only learn about the sport. They also improve their Arabic language skills while watching and listening to well articulated Aljazeera sports reporters. Some of them may have never been to school, so it can help with vocabulary. Also with becoming knowledgeable of other countries and ideas. In a broader sense football comprises aspects of several disciplines like physiology, sociology, geography and cultural aspects. You can say an informal education. And it can help raise awareness and tolerance for different cultures, habits and customs around the globe and within your own community.
Women in Moroccan Football
Football also helps raising awareness and tolerance over women empowerment and gender equality. Due to strong patriarchic roots in Moroccan society women haven’t been considered doing sports until the last decade. Nevertheless the ubiquitous popularity of football increased the support or at least the tolerance of women playing the game. It is equally important for kids, women and men to be able to exercise. And to organise in teams, leagues and tournaments for their sport of choice. Needless to mention the health benefits, better stamina and developing a sense for team- and fair-play.
The development towards more acceptance led to the first ever women’s football symposium of the Confederation of African Football in Marrakech. It’s aimed at developing women football on the continent and has support by high profile players and FIFA representatives. Let’s hope this development continues and the women’s national team follows its male counterpart by qualifying for the African Woman Cup of Nations to inspire a young generation of girls in the country!