Following the Moroccan national football team’s victories over European teams Belgium and Spain at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, many Moroccan residents in those countries have taken to the streets to celebrate the result. What for many could have been an appropriate act of celebration, for others could have been a provocation overdone by the country that, after all, hosts them and in which they grow up. However, the reality in this case shows us how such a superficial excuse as a football match has triggered robberies, violence and insults by some Moroccan fans living in Europe.
For the first time in history, a World Cup is being held in winter. European fans of the “beautiful game” combine the end of the year and the arrival of Christmas with watching their national team’s matches. Even though the world’s top football event is not held during the vacation season, everyday life is more present than ever at this edition of the World Cup, with its advantages and disadvantages. For the first time in history, the World Cup is being held in an Arab country, and in a convulsive geopolitical context due to the energy supply problems that Europe is suffering due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Qatar has seen an opportunity to show its best version to the world. In this sense, the Arab and Muslim world is showing its pride, as reflected in the attendance of the various Qatari fans in the stadiums. Morocco, one of these proud countries, had many fans present in Qatar. At a time when the Moroccan national team has great players in its squad, and in a context as propitious as a World Cup in an Arab and Muslim country, the fans are looking forward to the event with great enthusiasm.
Morocco: from illusion to hysteria
However, the enthusiasm of some of these fans has turned into mass hysteria, turning the entertainment of football into a source of confrontation with the countries in which they live. In the case of Belgium, dozens of arrests of citizens of Moroccan origin were made after the defeat of their national team against the Africans, following an excessive demonstration of violence. What at first could have been a simple legitimate celebration by football fans turned into a disproportionate display of vandalism, including burning of containers and clashes with the police. In the case of Spain, screenshots from social media showed how some fans boasted that, if Morocco beat Spain, the Africans should take over Barcelona (referring to the large Moroccan population residing in the Spanish city). After the victory of the Africans over the Europeans, several cities in Spain experienced situations similar to those that occurred a few days earlier in Belgium, having to lament scenes of vandalism, theft and insults directed at Spain and the Spanish.
These examples, which are now unfortunately also shown in football, are only a reflection of the reality of Muslim cultural immigration in Europe. On the one hand, it is an immigration that has freely decided to migrate to liberal democracies in search of a better life, either for a political system more prone to develop their individual projects or for job opportunities. On the other hand, and in contradiction with the reception by Europeans, situations such as the one that happened because of football are enough to show an immigrant’s phobia towards the culture to which he/she has come. The contempt on the part of some members of a people who, for some reason, have decided to perpetrate recurrently this type of situations, invading areas of our daily life that do not correspond to politics, evidencing more and more an existing problem in Europe at the gates of 2023.