Solidarity with Palestine at World Cup doesn't represent Moroccan King's voice: Israeli diplomat
The Moroccan football team's display of solidarity with Palestine at the World Cup does not represent the Moroccan king's position, said the deputy chief of the mission of Israel in Morocco to Israeli media.
Eyal David, deputy chief of the mission of Israel in Morocco, told Yedioth Ahronoth radio on Sunday that the display of the Palestinian flag was not "ordered" by the Moroccan king Mohammed VI.
"I inquired with the officials of the Moroccan government, and they explained to me that the waving of the Palestinian flag by the national team does not represent the will of the king but was a local initiative of one of the players who plays in the Saudi league," said Eyal David in a recent interview with Yedioth Ahronoth radio.
The Israeli diplomat might be referencing Hamdallah Abderrazak as he is the only player of the Moroccan team who plays in Al-Ittihad Saudi. However, several Moroccan players were seen holding the flag, including Abdelhamid Sabiri, who plays in the Italian Club of Unione Calcio Sampdoria.
סגן השגריר הישראלי במרוקו אייל דוד ב-@ynetradio: "ביררתי עם הגורמים בממשל המרוקאי, והסבירו לי שהנפת דגל פלסטין על ידי הנבחרת לא מייצגת את רצון המלך אלא היתה יוזמה מקומית של אחד השחקנים שמשחק בליגה הסעודית"@sharonkidon pic.twitter.com/Om49d1eGev— ישי שנרב (@IshayShnerb) December 11, 2022
The Israeli official's comments came after Israeli media articulated discomfort regarding the Atlas Lions' display of Palestinian solidarity, urging Moroccan officials for an explanation.
In an interview with Israeli channel I24 news, French author Georges Marc-Benamou called on the Moroccan king and government to apologise for the Moroccan team's "behaviour".
The Palestinian flag has accompanied the Moroccan team and fans since the start of the World Cup, becoming an amulet of luck and proof of a failed normalisation strategy.
Solidarity with Palestine is rooted in the culture of the football Ultras culture in Morocco.
Know for their anti-regime chants, Moroccan Ultras around the Kingdom have rocked stadiums for years with chants like "O beloved Palestine" by Casablanca's Raja Club fans.
Rabat's normalisation with Tel Aviv in 2020 made the chant louder after Moroccan Ultras were finally allowed back to stadiums earlier this year following the end of the pandemic restrictions.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Moroccans are calling for the boycott of the state-TV sports channel Arriyadia after a pro-Israeli tweet about Atlas Lions' win at the World Cup.
On Sunday, Arriyadia's official Twitter account posted the Israeli and Moroccan flags in response to Israeli president Isaac Herzog's congratulation on the Moroccan team's qualifications for the semi-final of the world cup.
🇲🇦 🇮🇱 https://t.co/EHgYgZ6mqS— Arryadia TV (@arryadiatv) December 11, 2022
Several Moroccan and Arab users lambasted the channel for "staining" the Alas Lions' legacy after they displayed their solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
"The team raises the resistance flag and the official trumpet tweets with the apartheid killers personally," tweeted a Moroccan user under the Arabic hashtag, 'block Arriyadia'.
On 22 December, Rabat and Tel Aviv will celebrate the anniversary of their two-year-long normalisation relationship when dozens of cooperation agreements were signed in several fields, however, anti-normalisation feelings continue to reign supreme in the Moroccan street.