Belgium in Brief: A reflection of raw Moroccan reality

Belgium in Brief: A reflection of raw Moroccan reality
Credit: Belga

Morocco continues to surprise friend and foe during the World Cup, most recently with its win against Portugal, and supporters across the world are celebrating as Morocco has now become the first African country to make it to the semi-finals.

Along with videos of Morocco's midfielder Sofiane Boufal dancing with his mother on the pitch and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou playing with his son going viral after Saturday's quarter-final win, footage also shows thousands of fans gathering on streets and squares in numerous Western European cities celebrating the country's success.

Many, including the team's coach Walid Regragui, have suggested that the massive celebrations of Moroccan communities in western countries are about a lot more than just football.

"What is also being celebrated is the bicultural identity, carrying many worlds. Here people took their social wrath on being looked down upon for years: the discrimination, the internships that were not awarded, the unrelenting stream of prejudices," wrote Moroccan-Dutch author Abdelkader Benali in a beautiful opinion piece for Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

The wins are unprecedented achievements by a team whose members (and many of its supporters) come from everywhere and nowhere: more than half of the players were not born in Morocco, but are children of migrant workers in Western countries – a reflection of the "raw, dizzying Moroccan reality," Benali said.

With every win, coach Regragui dreams louder and louder of actually becoming World Champion, and urges all Moroccans, biculturals and binationals across the world to openly do the same.

"Why shouldn't an African team dream of that? Why be content with participating, or even with a quarter-final, as achieved in recent decades by Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana? Gold can only be achieved if expectations are raised," the Moroccan-Dutch author argued.

Goalkeeper Bounou was born in Montreal, defender Hakimi was born in Madrid, winger Ziyech and midfielder Amrabat come from small towns in the Netherlands; Amallah, Chair, Zaroury and El Khannous were all born in Belgium. Coach Regragui, who grew up in France himself and settled in Morocco after a long playing career as a trainer, called his team's success so far an African victory: "We are playing for the continent here."

And fans from the entire continent, along with their descendants spread across the world, are celebrating. If you ask me, Morocco has already won, no matter what happens against France on Wednesday.

What do you think? Let @Maajtee know.

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