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Will FIFA Sanction the Moroccan Team for Featuring the Palestinian Flag?

Khadija Boufous Khadija Boufous
14th December 2022
Will FIFA Sanction the Moroccan Team for Featuring the Palestinian Flag?
The football governing body did not respond to the allegations (Getty)

As the Moroccan team shines at the 22nd edition of the World Cup in Qatar, controversies were raised about the squad waving the Palestinian flag on the pitch at every victory. 

The Palestinian Flag on Pitch

Several Moroccan players raised the Palestinian flag in celebration of their historic victory over Spain on Tuesday.

According to media reports, this is the second time Moroccan players have waved the Palestinian flag after winning a game.

During the tournament, Morocco's Jawad El Yamiq raised the Palestinian flag in celebration of his country's victory over Canada.

During the tournament, Moroccan football fans were seen waving the Moroccan flag and "Free Palestine" banners.

According to the Middle East Eye, when the North African team qualified for the quarter-finals, Moroccans and fans from Qatar, Lebanon, and Egypt all chanted:

“Oh my beloved Palestine,

Where are the Arabs? They are asleep.

The most beautiful country resists.

May God protect you.” 

“The chant was usually sung by fans of Morocco's most successful football team Raja Casablanca.” However, the lyrics that have absolutely nothing to do with football have “become the unofficial anthems of the first ever World Cup to be held in the Middle East,” the report pointed out.

After the match between Morocco and Portugal, in which the Atlas Lions were guaranteed a place in the next round, midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri posted an Instagram photo of himself with a Palestinian flag on his shoulders and the caption "Freedom."

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Pro-Israel Media Outraged by Raising the Palestinian Flag

According to an article published in Israel Today, numerous Israeli fans cheered for Morocco. 

Local fans were angered, however, when the Moroccan team celebrated by posing for a photograph while holding a large Palestinian flag.

According to an Israeli news source, it is forbidden for athletes to promote such causes during international sporting competitions.

“It remains to be seen if FIFA will risk similarly upsetting the Arab world by taking Morocco to task,” pointed out the article.

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“The move came despite Morocco’s increasingly close relations with Israel after signing the Abraham Accords that normalized ties,” reported Times of Israel.

Meanwhile, other reports accused the team of Anti-Semitism and wrote that FIFA’s regulations prohibit the use of banners, flags, and fliers that are deemed to be political, offensive, and, or discriminatory.

“The promotion or announcement of political or religious messages or any other political or religious actions, inside or in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, by any means, is strictly prohibited before, during and after matches,” FIFA regulations state.

As similar articles are making rounds, others said that football authorities have occasionally issued fines for displays of the Palestinian flag inside grounds. Meanwhile, social media users are asking if the Moroccan team would be sanctioned after raising the Palestinian flag at the World Cup stadiums.

"Rules only make sense if they are consistently applied. Whatever your view on the Middle East and the future of the Palestinian Territories, taking their flag onto a football pitch at the World Cup surely counts as a political statement,” reads an article on Deutsche Welle.

“Morocco players had a Palestinian flag on the pitch after their last-16 win over Spain in Qatar and previous matches while the first Arab World Cup has seen a plethora of ‘Free Palestine’ messages from fans in and outside stadiums,” the writer added.

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Will FIFA Sanction the Moroccan Team for Supporting Palestine?

Based on our investigation,  FIFA did not issue any official statement or decision sanctioning the Moroccan football team for displaying the Palestinian flag. The world football governing body FIFA did not even comment on the Israeli complaints.

According to an article on Al Mayadeen, the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung ridiculed Moroccans and other Arab fans who sought to express their pro-Palestine sentiments and beliefs by waving the Palestinian flag “in the face of normalization with an oppressive colonialism raping Palestinian soil.”

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“The Palestinian struggle is embedded within Arab culture, with the Palestinian cause being a staple in nearly all of the Arab states’ curricula, not a childishly defiant move,” as the German author claimed.

“Though several Arab regimes have normalized ties with the Israeli occupation, the sentiment among the popular masses is still pro-Palestine regardless of how a certain country's government leans,” Al Mayadeen reported.

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German Media Linking Moroccan Players to the Islamic State

On December 12, the German news channel Welt aired a report falsely linking the Moroccan football players to the Islamic State (ISIS), Al Jazeera reported.

The report, which featured a picture of three Moroccan players with the Moroccan flag raising their index finger in the dressing room, sparked anger and raised controversies on social media.

As a response, Rashad Alhindi, who describes himself as a German-Palestinian director, tweeted pictures of German football players, global politicians, and the Pope raising their index fingers.

As the Moroccan national team became the first African and Arab team to reach the semi-finals, it has recently been subject to many claims and controversies. 

The North African team was targeted by different claims that Misbar monitored and addressed, including a claim saying that Morocco’s national team ascended to the 12th rank according to FIFA’s ranking.

Misbar’s Sources

Middle East Eye

Abdelhamid Sabiri



Al Mayadeen

Al Jazeera