The FIFA World Cup is a huge global cultural event, and the World Cup, which is watched by billions of passionate spectators, and even those who are not usually fans of this game, has become more than a sporting event, and football itself has gone beyond being considered as a mere recreational or competitive activity. Today, it is closer to a social, cultural, political, economic and diplomatic phenomenon.

Therefore, this article seeks to transfer football, in its language, from the flanks to the center stage, and to realize the possible cohesion between football and politics, and the centrality of the game in the current global cultural system, through an interesting example in the recent World Cup, which is the Moroccan team that He was able to achieve an unprecedented achievement for him, and even for his regional environment, as the analysis will be exposed to two levels: internal and external, related to how to interpret that achievement politically and diplomatically.

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The Moroccan football team entered the World Cup in Qatar as a normal team coming from an ordinary path, but it achieved what is not normal. Maghribia" The question is circulating in the mind: How is that?

Why not?

The Moroccan team showed a long breath of superiority in decisive confrontations, as it said its word and silenced the major football powers (Belgium, Spain, Portugal), and each victory it achieved was tantamount to deviating from the text and committing the foolishness of dreaming of more, so it was able to breathe life into the word “impossible” and replace it with “ The Moroccan Possible”, and jumping to the forefront of the event, thus changing the course of the World Cup history as the first African and Arab team to rise to the golden square, which eventually allowed it to jump high in the FIFA classification by occupying the eleventh row in the world, and thus the Moroccan team became a source of inspiration not only For the African and Arab teams, and even for the European teams that were very impressed with his performance.

Every victory achieved by the Moroccan team was tantamount to deviating from the text and committing the foolishness of dreaming of more, so it was able to breathe life into the word “impossible” and replace it with “the Moroccan possible” (Reuters)

The Moroccan team enriched the World Cup in Qatar, as it appeared more professional and more powerful, and broke many stereotypical expectations that did not nominate it to play pioneering roles in the tournament, and its path constituted a victory in its style of play, efficiency and organization. The eyes of the world on his renaissance, his return and his rebellion.

At a time when it was common for a foreign coach to train the Moroccan team, and only 3 months before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, the national coach Walid Regragui was chosen to coach the Moroccan team thanks to his football intelligence more than any other qualifications he might possess.

Everyone was mobilizing the team to try to get rid of the complex of falling in the group stage for a period of 36 years, and then it achieved a surprise and rose much further.

Thus, Al-Rakraki was able to raise the performance of the players of the group that he assumed supervision of, as he put the team in a socialist format in which everyone shares the results of the matches, making football an industry in which the results are the most important, and thus “scoring a goal against a big team in the World Cup made the team feel He scored a goal in history."

The method adopted by the coach mixed the playing cards and characteristics of the most powerful teams that the Moroccan team faced, as it relied on rationality through a defensive style of play that gives priority to securing the net in front of the opposing team, and on the cultural value of the game, specifically the morale of the players, where “the defensive mental state can be expressed.” through the observed collective rhythm.

However, the coach did not make the state of mind required to win the matches limited to speech and practices inside the field, but also outside it, and therefore he established a direct relationship between him and the audience, so that whenever he spoke to him, he expelled one wisdom after another from his mouth, and created a special dictionary to address him with, so what was From the spectators, however, they responded, interacted, and encouraged their team well, so they were truly the number 12 player who carries out the task of motivating the players.

Al-Rakraki established a direct relationship between him and the audience, so that whenever he spoke to him, he expelled one wisdom after another from his mouth, and created a special dictionary to address him with, so it was only among the spectators that they responded, interacted, and cheered their team well.

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It is true that in the prevailing discourse the Moroccan team reached its footballing glory due to the skill of its coach, but one should not lose sight of the important capabilities that were placed at its disposal, against the backdrop that “the modern world of football, interested in exploring every avenue in pursuit of victory, now embraces Science, Strategy and Technology”, because it is no longer an improvisation game. The coach has adopted a team of experts in various fields: sports medicine, video analysis, performance analysis, nutrition, etc.

Likewise, the mental fitness that the coach focused on made the players bond with strong bonds as one family, and surrender themselves to the convictions of their leader, because they understood that team play is the greatest production of their individual efforts, and that the value of each player does not emerge except in the midst of a harmonious and cohesive team, where “the wolf works well.” With the group", however, the tactical discipline of the players and adherence to the philosophy of results outlined by the coach did not prevent them from enjoying themselves as a parallel goal, as this did not prevent them from employing individual skills within the group, in many cases they played a beautiful ball and showed a style of play with distinct movements.

Sports confrontations, including football matches, are not only related to the competing teams, because “our shows and sporting events today derive their meaning not from mere play, but from the spectators who watch and memorize them” (4), so what made the path of the Moroccan team remain in The memory of the last World Cup, not that its players competed vigorously to prove their worth, but rather because millions of spectators around the world saw how the Moroccan masses were not defined by geographical borders to support their national team, making their shirt their identification card, and followed their exploits as they collectively agitated and cheered him to the point of mania through Appealing to a shared identity that unites players and spectators alike.

Moroccan fans in Qatari stadiums have proven the amazing side of the game of football, igniting their enthusiasm for the players' play, and revealing that the appropriate form of entertainment in the stadiums is a culture of support marked by an organizational commitment inside the stands in terms of cheers, celebration and interaction between fans.

The formation of politics at the internal level

People stopped their daily lives to keep up with their team, everyone was eagerly awaiting their match dates.

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Football is a game, a culture, and even a political phenomenon, as it creates resources that can be used politically. According to Eric Hobsbawm, the cultural production of football is able to capture the popular imagination and stir up nationalist tendencies more tangibly than other areas of cultural and political construction.

With what the Moroccan football team achieved in the World Cup in Qatar, it became clear that its stars outperform all other elites in terms of public importance. The team played a symbolic role in uniting what separated the political reality. Indeed, the national team has become the party with the most influence in Moroccan society today, far from any other party. Another group, given his ability to mobilize the masses.

The team contributed to moving the social emotional feelings, but rather allowed the fans to cross outside the usual social time, as people stopped their daily lives to keep up with their team, as everyone was eagerly awaiting the dates of their matches, and the encouragement was not limited to the physical presence inside the stadiums, but it extended to a greater extent To homes, workplaces, and cafes whose livelihood became the day of the national team’s matches, which were watched by adults and children, with an intense presence of women cheerleaders.

Following the matches of the national team contributed to creating a sense of cohesion and stability, as it constituted moments of important community consensus that linked the most distinct social and cultural mixtures. On the one hand, it contributed to modifying the social map of football and the emergence of a “class alliance” among the masses, as low-income fans are no longer interested. Only matches, despite the class differentiation that is reflected in the division of stadium stands or cafe tables, while the social classes may be heterogeneous, “the deep feelings aroused by the national colors, the national anthem, and the nervous anticipation of the match day generally lead to a huge unified front on behalf of a collective national entity.” ".

On the other hand, football served as a social equalizer in light of the cultural heterogeneity between the groups, because even elite circles that use clichés such as “the ball is the opium of the people” and “a tool of power to distract and control the masses” found themselves integrated into popular expressions of pride and celebration of victories. the national team.

Football is not just a cultural phenomenon or a social adhesive that binds various societal elements, but it is a social phenomenon in itself.

In this context, the Moroccan team has contributed to fueling national feelings, as a match does not begin without the national anthem being played, accompanied by flaming feelings of enthusiasm, which are occasions to promote patriotism among the fans and raise their level of national pride.

Unintentionally, perhaps, the encouragement of the national team merged multiple dimensions of the local identity. The crowd’s supplication for the success of the national team formed a mixture of sports, patriotism, and religion in a rare Sufi moment.

"Football fan associations represent a model of identity in the time of late modernity. These groups highlight their identity to create new symbolic meanings, based on Bourdieu's vision of sport as an independent social field with its own dynamics and history, where fans create their own narratives and behavior patterns."

Although the essence of football is to say that the image of the Moroccan national team in the World Cup in Qatar is a form of politically neutral social action, it was immediately integrated into the country's festive national policy. Other than being considered the maker of the country's sports policy, the country's monarch appeared to be a consumer of football, that is, a fan in the literal sense, as cameras caught him wearing the national team's shirt and enjoying, along with the rest of the fans, the success of his country's national team.

At the same time, the common sense of national unity and identity with the support of the national team allowed football to become a metaphor for the country's well-being and potential, where emotional indulgence in encouragement may be compensation for some unfulfilled national ambitions, and citizens burdened with the pressures of hardship have come to look at football. As an opportunity for social advancement, especially when they see that most of the national team players come from difficult social circles, yet they were able to prove themselves and achieve glory for their families and their country.

Sport achieves what politics cannot, and it may be a political means at times, through which the state expresses political action, as the outcome of the national team's participation in the World Cup will contribute to improving the image of the Royal Football League (the local federation of the game), at a time when the Moroccan public was looking To it as part of a huge spending process from the state budget on a few individuals in light of limited results. Rather, more than that, the outcome of Fawzi Lakjaa, the president of the university in his capacity as a politician and minister, will be steadily affected by the positive outcome of the national team, regardless of the popular position on the entire government.

 Green grass diplomacy


In the current era, the standards of state power are undergoing profound changes, as soft power joins hard power, and in this context, "sport is turning today into the field of soft power in which the image of the country occupies a more important place, and in which sport occupies a special symbolism, as a tool for polishing and highlighting the image," he added. In addition, sport, with its international brilliance, which it bestows on countries and stars, is now transcending national borders.

In light of this, football represents one of the sources of soft power for different countries, as it is a major component of the popular culture of societies. The semi-final and final rounds of the World Cup in Qatar.

Football has become a globalized game that contributes to global radiation, and serves the purposes of public diplomacy just like other forms of culture. It is a haven for the state on the external level and a continuation of its diplomacy by other means. And the degree of its influence and influence in the international arena.” In this context, the sporting leap achieved by the Moroccan national team in the World Cup in Qatar not only earns external respect for the country, but also strengthens its international standing, as its impressive results will prompt people who are ignorant of it around the world to pay attention to it.

International sport is a national struggle in which national teams symbolize nations, and the national symbol is not only about winning or losing the game, but also about displaying a specific national identity in an international tournament environment. Likewise, the idea of ​​football is a game that does not recognize the status of countries or their military and material capabilities, and it is a game It is able to break the hierarchy of the social world between those at the bottom and those at the top.

It is not only the members of the Moroccan national team who contributed to this achievement for Morocco, but also the fans who were behind the events of the victory industry or the rituals of celebration.

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Achieving victory in a football match, then, goes beyond just considering it a sporting victory, and can be considered "a matter of national pride and a competition to show the superiority of one country over others, and because it costs much less than a military war, all countries can use it regardless of their size, influence or power." Football itself has become a source of strength for states, so that “the state is no longer defined by the three traditional elements alone (territory, population, and government), but also by a fourth element (the national football team).” Thus, Morocco, which lags behind on several levels in front of the countries it faced His team in the World Cup succeeded in achieving a spherical achievement and surpassed it, because when the bet is to win in light of the clash between the countries’ teams over the World Cup, defeating the opposing team “is an ambition that may be closer to the concept of hard power rather than diplomacy.”

Winning matches was not the only aspect that led to the success of Moroccan football diplomacy in the World Cup in Qatar. The level of universal admiration he has accumulated from beating big teams, because "style, fair play, dignity and sportsmanship, especially in defeat, are treated as of equal value diplomatically".

The World Cup, which is watched by billions of people across the world, has provided a platform for Morocco that is unparalleled by any international cultural or political body, even if it is the United Nations and its organs, and the national team players have contributed to it by publicizing and promoting their country on a large scale, perhaps. It was not embodied by politicians and diplomats, because such "regular totalitarian international events have a global impact".

And if the success on the field is interpreted as the best form of football diplomacy, then it is not only the team members who contributed to this achievement for Morocco, but also the fans who were behind the events of the victory industry or the celebration rituals, while football diplomacy is based on the two functions of representation. And communication, the players assumed the function of representation, winning hearts and minds around the world, not only with their performance, but with their family, solidarity and religious cultural values, because “sports, and football in particular, should not be treated only as a form of entertainment or leisure time, but as a place of cultural productions, where fans negotiate and renegotiate multiple identities.

As for the public, it embodied the function of communication and promoted the image of a nation, and thus the two parties united around the message of marketing the idea of ​​a homeland. Together, they contributed to Morocco being in the spotlight in all international media, enjoying remarkable Arab regional pride, and embodying the continental hope of Africa. Indeed, the unprecedented achievement What Morocco achieved strengthened support for the Arab region in parallel with Qatar's success in organizing the World Cup, as the 2022 tournament is the first to be held in an Arab country, and in it an Arab country can also achieve an exception at the level of performance.

By evoking a soft-power perspective that goes beyond the international power maps of the advanced north and the backward south, and is commensurate with the most popular sport in the world, the great fame that the Moroccan team has gained in the World Cup in Qatar and the international standing of the country make it rise to being a cultural force that achieves political goals, as the football team embodies The state and the symbolic image of the nation contributes significantly to a country's popularity in the same way that other cultural factors do.

Football has proven to be an effective means among others to achieve a country's political ends, for if politics is about the message and diplomacy is about the way the message is delivered, then "football diplomacy takes the form of a glamorous attack, a calculated campaign designed to win admiration, endorsement, and support. Football as another cultural export that gives a general vision of the nation as a political, economic, social and cultural model, and a way of life that must be respected, admired, trusted and perhaps imitated.

Talking about the "geopolitics of football" prompts us to say without exaggeration that this game is the most global phenomenon today, so that it is much more global than political values ​​such as democracy and human rights, as it is unique in its polarization, by reaching circles other than the elites, and therefore Admirers of the Moroccan team in the World Cup in Qatar do not care about the internal conditions of the country, for example. Rather, what matters to them is the achieved football achievement that made a country falter in various challenges. Other countries look forward to emulating its example, and this is exactly the magic of "green grass diplomacy" whose strength exceeds the mobility and diplomacy of governments. In general, perhaps there are other evidences in history, as "in the darkest hours of Brazil's dictatorship, this country was able to maintain a likable image thanks to football, which reflected the generosity and skill of its people."


This report is taken from Al Jazeera Center for Studies.