News ID: 110117
Publish Date : 13 December 2022 - 21:38

Morocco Win Africa Support in World Cup Clash With France

DOHA (AFP) - His country is in diplomatic crisis with Morocco, but that’s not stopping Tunisian Wissam Sultani supporting the first ever Arab or African team to reach a football World Cup semifinal.
“There’s no politics on the pitch. Supporting an Arab country, whichever one, is a duty when it gets to this stage of a tournament,” said Sultani, a 41-year-old greengrocer in Tunis, capital of the North African nation.
“Football brings people together, but politics divides them.”
Morocco’s “Lions of the Atlas”, who beat Portugal on Saturday to reach the final four, will face former colonial power France on Wednesday.
They will have the backing of many fans across Africa and the Arab world.
Three African teams -- Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal -- have made it to the quarter-finals since 1990, but Morocco is the first ever to reach the semis.
Sultani is one of many Tunisians supporting the team -- with little regard for a diplomatic stand-off between their two governments over the disputed Western Sahara territory.
Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Tunis in August after Tunisian President Kais Saied welcomed the head of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for the Western Sahara.
Morocco, which called Saied’s act “hostile”, sees the mineral-rich desert region as a sovereign part of its own territory.
“Political problems end when the match starts,” said Tunis lemon merchant Hamza Ayari, aged 35. “What’s important is to see the Arab team win”.
In a nearby Tunis street, a sports shop plays Moroccan folk songs to attract customers, and the red jersey of the Moroccan team is the highlight of the display.
Tunisia’s media hailed the Moroccan victory over Portugal in glowing terms.
“The kingdom of courage has struck again by taking Portugal out after Spain,” the La Presse newspaper wrote.