Morocco's goalkeeper Bounou calls Gaza child amputee injured in Israeli airstrike
In a gesture of solidarity with Palestine, Morocco’s national team goalkeeper Yassine Bounou (Bounou) called a young fan in whose dream of becoming a goalkeeper was ended by the amputation of his leg following an Israeli airstrike.
Over the weekend, the story of the Gaza child Assef went viral on social media after he spoke about his love and admiration of Bounou in a video with Palestinian journalist Hani Abu Rizq.
“I would run to him even with one leg. I love him so much,” said Assef smiling as he spoke passionately about his ambition of football and the Moroccan team.
طفل من غزه بُِترت قدمه يتحدث عن ياسين بونو pic.twitter.com/SxLyixDyfc— رنيـم (@T11r4) November 20, 2023
On Monday evening, journalist Hani Abu Rizq shared another video of Assef. This time, the young kid was speaking to his idol who is also the goalkeeper for the Suadi club Al-Hilal.
"I love you very much. You are a role model for me. My dream is to meet you. The Moroccan national team is the best." Assef told Bounou during the video call. The Moroccan goalkeeper assured Assef that they would meet soon.
Assef also had the chance to speak to the Moroccan player Ayoub El Kaabi. Overwhelmed by the experience, tears streamed down his face.
Bounou received an outpouring of praise after his gesture, with some calling on him to officially voice solidarity with Gaza and condemn the Israeli 'genocide.'
Morocco’s goalkeeper Yassine Bonou facetimed Asef, a kid from Gaza whose leg got amputated by an Israeli airstrike.— Leyla Hamed (@leylahamed) November 20, 2023
This beautiful kid's ambition was to become a goalie like him.
Don’t forget the children in Gaza have dreams too. pic.twitter.com/VXgPLYeSt7
Most Moroccan team players have yet to speak publicly about the ongoing war in Gaza, including Yassine Bounou and Achraf Hakimi.
The silence of the renowned figures of the Atlas Lions has disappointed many fans across the Arab world, where the team rose to unprecedented popularity during the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Hundreds of users flooded the players' Instagram posts with comments calling on taking a firm position against the Israeli airstrikes that target over one million civilians in Gaza, half of them children.
Morocco’s Nasser Mazraoui (FC Bayern Munich), Hakim Ziyech (Galatasaray Istanbul), Zakaria Aboukhlal (FC Toulouse), and midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri (Saudi Pro club Al-Fayha FC) have shared social media posts in solidarity with Gaza with some of them risking their careers with their clubs over their position.
Sofiane Boufal and Ismael Kandouss have also joined their teammates in showcasing solidarity with Gaza over social media.
During the World Cup, the Moroccan team showed unwavering solidarity for the Palestinian cause, with team members and fans brandishing the Palestinian flag after every winning game.
Deemed an implicit criticism of normalisation, their loyalty to the Palestinian flag upset Israeli officials in Rabat and Tel Aviv at the time.
Morocco and Israel normalised relations as part of the Abraham Accords.