As Morocco’s historic journey continues internationally, it has also revealed a wave of support from Algeria. A breath of oxygen.
She has no secrets from anyone. The sporting rivalry between Morocco and Algeria has written much of the cultural fabric that links the two countries. A story of love, jealousy, similarities and paradoxes, lifted to the highest level today by the course of the Atlas Lions in this World Cup 2022. Chronicle of a sentimental soap opera.
Politics for politicians
It would indeed be “wrong” for Algerian supporters to declare Morocco’s victories as a glowing flame. And for good reason. If we questioned Green supporters one by one, everyone would agree that Algeria should be in Qatar. A missed date, on the evening of this March 29 forever cursed in hearts dzairis. And if personal failure wasn’t enough, the exploits penned by the Tunisian and (especially) Moroccan hostile brothers added a final point of frustration to an already charged football disgust. Because who would be happy if their rival won? But once this simplistic aspect is over, the mutual friendship that the supporters of both selections have for themselves will not be long in coming.
To achieve this, you only need to navigate through the various information flows. From Souq Waqif in Doha to the Champs-Élysées, via Oran or Tlemcen, the flags of the two nations are proudly displayed. Far from official bodies. Indeed, during this World Cup, Algerian National Television (ENTV) refused to broadcast footage of Morocco’s victory, when the Moroccan Ministry of Culture engaged in an incomprehensible battle with Adidas last October aimed at removing the warm-up jersey planned for Algeria.
“You will not find two peoples as similar as Moroccans and Algerians. Physically, culturally, linguistically, sociologically: these two peoples are connected. » Mouloud Haddad, sociologist
Virtual hate, real love
Wars with a diplomatic overtone (closure of the Algerian-Moroccan border since 1994, conflict over the Western Sahara), far from the concerns of the people and, above all, from the triviality of a sports match. “On the Algerian side, there are two things we need to analyzenotes Mouloud Haddad, historian and sociologist, specialist in the Euro-Mediterranean space. First, the difference between the state media, which deliberately omits Morocco’s heroic deeds, and the private media, which smoothly broadcast these successes by highlighting them. Then, on the social networks, where we see a battle between Algerians, against the “haters” of Morocco against the others, rather happy for the Moroccans. This duality is thus mainly virtual, favored by the useless importance of social networks. » Always good to point it out.
Because in reality things turn out to be different. Absent from this World Cup, Algeria has decided to support what is closest to it. Understand, African countries, and more specifically those of North Africa. First with Tunisia, prematurely eliminated, then Morocco. Resign, then join the winner, to compensate for what his people failed to achieve. A process of natural acceptance. “You will not find two peoples as similar as Moroccans and Algerianscontinues Professor Haddad. Physically, culturally, linguistically, sociologically: these two peoples are connected. The grandparents immigrated at the same time, the children grew up in the same neighborhoods and Algerian-Moroccan marriages are very common. In this mix you also have figures like Mehdi Benatia yesterday and Ismaël Bennacer today. The hyphens are far too numerous not to see some form of mimicry. »
“For the Algerians, once the acceptance of defeat is over, we naturally identify with Morocco’s victories. » Mouloud Haddad
Africa does not lose the North
Bad faith aside, these are two closely related companies that have learned to fall in love with each other. With football as the only escape. “Social networks have a vicious primal ability to incite hatred while obscuring the perpetrators. But it remains minimal. For the Algerians, once the defeats of the past, one naturally identifies with the victories of Morocco, because this brings them closest to their country. And this issue of identification is essential for the supporters of each of the two countries. asks Mouloud Haddad. An element that is far from specific to this 2022 World Cup, since in 2014 or during CAN 2019 these scenes of communal jubilation accompanied the Algerian victories. However, completely excluding the geopolitical factor would be radical. For Algeria and Morocco, mainly nourished by the Berber culture and Arabic in the background, the course of this competition in Qatar has largely promoted this phenomenon of convergence. “Khaoua, khaoua” (We are all brothers, in VF), as the expression goes.
“One of the other tipping points of this mutual support came when the Moroccan players waved a Palestinian flag. Not in the stands, no, but on the lawn. Symbolically, this gesture marked the spirits, especially for the Algerians, who are very attached to this subject. (Morocco recently opened a program to normalize its relations with Israel, sparking new tensions with Algerian representatives, editor’s note). » Between football, a little politics, but above all a lot of respect, relations between Morocco and Algeria have never been more exposed than in this winter of 2022. ” One two three ! Live Maghribi! »
Par Adel Bentaha
Words by Mouloud Haddad recorded by AB.