Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | December 12, 2022 – With their historic, dramatic, and improbable win Saturday, the Atlas Lions of Morocco became the first Arab and the first African nation to advance to the semifinals of the world’s most watched tournament, the World Cup. ADC congratulates the people of Morocco on this momentous achievement. This is a historic win for Arabs across the world, as well as the greatest sporting achievement ever by an Arab nation.
During their run, the Moroccan players have proudly paraded their nations African, Arab, Amazigh, and Muslim identities. Moreover, the flag of Palestine has stood ever-present. The players, the entire nation, and their fans have reminded the world that Palestine is front and center in the minds and hearts of all Arabs, as they have proudly displayed the Palestinian flag on the field, during celebrations, and in the stands. From Marrakesh, to Doha, to Paterson, NJ, Palestine has been a constant element at every watch party and celebration during this World Cup. The support shown for Palestine during the tournament, mostly by Arabs but by others as well, sends a clear message that one cannot normalize occupation and apartheid. Political agreements do not necessarily reflect the will of the Arab peoples.
This Cinderella run by Morocco is made even more special by the fact that it is happening in Qatar, the first Arab nation to host the World Cup. Despite attempts to derail this landmark moment, Qatar has shown itself to be an incredible host. Participants from all over the globe are calling this the greatest World Cup ever, lauding the hospitality, the family-friendly atmosphere, and the safety of the country. Qatar has also provided an atmosphere for Arabs to proudly display their culture, their faith, their heritage, and, perhaps most importantly, especially in these times, their undying love for Palestine.
ADC Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “While there are still games to be played, the Moroccan run and the Qatari hospitality of have already made history. Thanks to Qatar and Morocco, the world has been introduced to a side of Arabs that is almost always ignored by western media. Never has the beauty of our culture, heritage, and warmth been elevated and celebrated on such a global stage.”
Morocco will face France in the semifinals on Wednesday, with the winner advancing to the World Cup Finals on December 18.
Khaled Beydoun: The day the football gods reversed the tide of history (CNN)
Dima Khatib: World Cup 2022: Palestine beats Israel on football’s big stage (AlJazeera)
Tariq Panja: Waving the Flag of the World Cup’s Unofficial Team (NY Times)