'Et tu, Brute?': Moroccan fans threaten to boycott Atlas Lions over new deal with McDonald's

'Et tu, Brute?': Moroccan fans threaten to boycott Atlas Lions over new deal with McDonald's
The Moroccan Football Federation's deal with McDonald's is reportedly part of Morocco's preparations to host the 2025 AFCON and 2030 World Cup.
3 min read
11 March, 2024
Neither FRMF nor McDonald's have issued an official statement to announce their new partnership. [Getty]

In Morocco, the national football team of the Atlas Lions, once beloved by the nation, has now become the target of a new boycott campaign following its collaboration with the fast-food chain McDonald's.

Over the weekend, the ​​​​​​Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) website displayed the logo of McDonald's "Golden Arches" among its partners, which also includes PUMA, another boycott target because of its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association (IFA). PUMA has decided not to renew its contract with IFA, which expires in December 2024.

Meanwhile, the fast-food chain has been the target of a worldwide boycott campaign, including in Morocco, since its Israeli franchise expressed support for the Israeli army last October.

"We will donate thousands of meals every day to soldiers in the field and drafting areas and offer discounts to soldiers visiting restaurants," Israel's McDonald's said in a series of Hebrew posts last October.

A month later, Morocco's McDonald's franchise released a video titled, "We hear you, we understand you, and we are here to explain."

The two-minute-long video emphasised that the franchise is 100% Moroccan, reassuring its customers that the fees they pay for the parent campaign do not go to any "political entity."

"We pray for our brothers in Gaza," said one employee featured in the video.

However, the PR attempt did not convince many Moroccan customers, who decided to continue boycotting the fast-food chain's 37 stores across the North African kingdom.

"They are still contributing to the parent campaign. No matter how small, they are still complicit in the murder of over 20,000 Palestinians," reads one comment under their video on Instagram.

For Sion Assidon, co-founder of the BDS Morocco movement, this partnership with the football federation is their latest attempt "to restore their reputation by associating its image with that of the football national team, which is adored in the country."

In January, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said that his company faces "meaningful business impact" in the Middle East market and some areas outside the region due to the war and "associated misinformation" about the brand.

Neither FRMF nor McDonald's have issued an official statement to announce their new partnership.

However, the appearance of the Golden Arches logo alongside that of the Moroccan football team, a green and red medal-like symbol cherished by Moroccans, was enough to enrage thousands of football fans.

"If this news is true, this team will be boycotted because it is provocative to the Moroccan people at this particular time," wrote one Moroccan user, Hssaine Mohamed.

During the Qatar World Cup, the Moroccan football team waved the Palestinian flag alongside the Moroccan one – a long-standing tradition among Moroccan football ultras who cherish the Palestinian cause as their own.

Live Story

However, this new partnership has put many Atlas Lions fans, both in Morocco and beyond, in a moment of "Et tu, Brute?" with many calling on the renowned figures of the team to put their weight behind cancelling this new deal with McDonald's.

A source from the FRMF stated that the deal with McDonald's and other new partners is part of Morocco's preparation for hosting the 2025 AFCON and 2030 World Cup.

"This collaboration with McDonald's is not recent and dates back well before the Moroccan boycott campaign and the Gaza war. It's simply a 'tacit renewal' of the contracts binding both parties," added the source as quoted by local media outlet Hespress.