As the first African country and the first Arab country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, the Moroccan football team now represents much more than its own nation, as its achievements have united a region and a continent in celebration. .
The Moroccan flag was unfurled in cities around the world on Saturday as fans celebrated the Atlas Lions’ historic 1-0 victory over Portugal.
Videos on social media show car horns blaring long into the night in Casablanca; crowds dancing in London’s Trafalgar Square; the crowded streets of Rabat; cheering supporters in Paris, as well as corridors of Moroccan fans erupting with delight when Youssef En-Nesyri’s header found the back of the net and again at the final whistle.
Political leaders around the world have also hailed the Atlas Lions, who have now beaten Belgium, Spain and Portugal – all ranked in the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings – in this tournament.
Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby said on Twitter“Historic and extraordinary! The qualification of the Atlas Lions for the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup is that of all of Africa. Full support to the representatives of Africa for the grand finale. Africa world champion, yes it is possible inchallah!”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid of Dubai tweeted: “No voice is stronger than that of Morocco in the World Cup!”
“We share the joy of our brothers” tweeted Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
“We rejoice when the Arabs rejoice,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said, according to Reuters, and hailed a “historic” victory.
The two rival Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas, also sent congratulations, according to Reuters.
Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah tweeted: “Congratulations to the Moroccan national team for their historic qualification for the semi-finals of the World Cup”, accompanied by a Moroccan flag emoji.
King Abdullah II of Jordan congratulated King Mohammed VI of Morocco via a phone call and wished the team “success in the remaining matches”, the Royal Hashemite Court said. Twitter account said.
egyptian ministry of foreign affairs tweeted: “Sincere congratulations to the sister kingdom of Morocco.”
“I congratulate the Atlas Lions on their victory today and for becoming the first African and Arab team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. tweeted.
Three African countries had already reached the quarter-finals – Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010 – but all fell sorely short of a place in the semi-finals.
Morocco’s success marks a hugely significant moment in African football history, and one that has been hailed by some of the continent’s biggest footballing stars.
“CONTINENTAL HISTORY!… What an achievement by the Atlas Lions”, the Confederation of African Football tweeted.
“They did it!!!! Congratulations to Morocco for this achievement. Long live Africa” tweeted retired Ivorian star Didier Drogba.
Samuel Eto’o, the former Cameroon striker and current president of the country’s football federation, said on Twitter: “Incredible! … The whole continent supports you.
Even pop star Shakira joined in the celebrations, Tweeter, “This time for Africa!!” in reference to his song used as in the 2010 World Cup, with a cheering emoji and a Moroccan flag.