In addition, there was an outpouring of happiness on the streets of Brussels and Barcelona.
As a result of their victory, Morocco is the first Arabic-speaking country to go to the quarterfinals. There was only one word on the lips of those who put their backs into building this entire spectacle last Sunday night: Morocco. This was far away from the surface polish and shuttle buses of this World Cup.
Around 800 immigrant workers from Africa and south Asia had congregated at the cricket stadium in Asiatown, a drab shopping and entertainment zone designed for them, to watch the match and see if Senegal would be victorious over England. They wanted to talk about Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui as the arena began to clear out after Bukayo Saka scored the goal that won it for his team.
Morocco knocked Spain out of the World Cup by scoring a 3-0 victory on penalties to go to the quarterfinals. “Morocco – they’re the ones,” said Ganesh, a Nepalese national who is a member of a team that has constructed hotels in this region. ‘Ghana are too slow. Senegal are better. However, Morocco will be the one to carry the banner for all of us.
For once, in this land of outrageous economic divides, there is something that the workers and the elusive Qataris, cocooned inside their 4x4s and the lobbies of the five-star hotels, can unify behind. This is an opportunity that has not presented itself in a long time. Since Qatar’s own squad failed miserably long ago, the country is now cheering for Morocco, which is the first Arabic-speaking nation to go to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Qatar claims Morocco as one of its own teams.
The Doha News made a big deal out of the fact that the winning Moroccan squad had flown the Palestinian flag during their victory parade yesterday. Qatar and FIFA do not appear to be eager to eradicate this symbol. On Tuesday, the joy felt by the Atlas Lions and their manager Walid Regragui rippled through the great majority of Morocco’s expatriate population like electricity.
Morocco fans celebrate after the game against Spain in the round of 16, where they pulled off a stunning upset and advanced. On the streets of Brussels and in the Raval neighbourhood of Barcelona, where some of the 872,000 Moroccans living in the defeated nation were singing the name of Achraf Hakimi — a match-winner who was born in Spain — there was an outpouring of pleasure.
After the match, someone made a change to the article on Wikipedia to include the following sentence: “It will also be remembered as the day in 2022 when Morocco knocked us out of the World Cup, and most amazingly, with a Panenka penalty scored by a guy born in Getafe.” This change was made after the match.
In an interview with the publication, he stated, “This is about playing for my grand parents and for millions of Moroccans.” When Real Madrid first saw him, he was only seven years old. It was coach Zinedine Zidane who offered him his first opportunity to play.
Even though celebrations in Brussels have twice descended into clashes with police, the run to a quarter-final against Portugal has allowed concerns about inflation and entrenched poverty to fade for a time among a large portion of the Moroccan diaspora that is scattered across Europe. Portugal is the next opponent for Morocco.