A historic day for Morocco. That is what the North African country experienced thanks to the semi-final match of the World Cup in Qatar against France. Despite the defeat at the gates of the World Cup final, it was a day of celebration because the national team's performance brought immense joy to the entire Moroccan population.
Morocco achieved a sporting feat at the tournament on Qatari soil by becoming the first African and Arab country to reach the penultimate round of a World Cup. This milestone is the result of a policy of support for sport and football in particular developed under the directives of King Mohammed VI, as the ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco in Madrid, Karima Benyaich, pointed out.
The diplomat attended as a fan the meeting organised by the Moroccan Embassy in Madrid at La Grada, in the centre of the Madrid capital, where dozens of Moroccan citizens living in Spain had the opportunity to attend the semi-final match between the Atlas Lions and the French national team, along with other authorities present at the event as the Minister of Economic Inclusion of the Kingdom of Morocco, Younes Sekkouri, and the Ambassador of Ghana in Spain, Muhammad Adam.
Karima Benyaich stressed that "the national team is a source of pride for Morocco, for the Moroccan people and for our African and Arab brothers", thanking the Moroccan players for the great role they played in the World Cup in Qatar and for the historic milestone achieved. The Atlas Lions became the representatives of the entire African continent and the Arab world at the World Cup.
"It's a historic moment. Our dream would have been to go all the way to the final, but it was also a dream to reach the semi-finals. It is historic for Morocco, for Africa and for the Arab countries. It is a dream of young people who have played and learned. You could see that our lions gave their best. The performance has been fantastic," said the Moroccan ambassador to Spain.
"This national team is a source of pride. We are very honoured to have it. It is the result of a whole policy that has been worked on and has been formed with players who also play in Spanish teams. They had ambition. The pressure was strong because they were not only representing Morocco, but also Africa and the Arab world. They have played, and you have seen it, in an exceptional way", added Karima Benyaich.
The Moroccan diplomat emphasised that this great result achieved in Qatar is the result of the work carried out over the years thanks to the impetus given by the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, who has supported the modernisation of the country in many sectors, including sport, and football in particular; in this case with the proliferation of football academies that have helped to train young Moroccans in sport, who have also been given academic support for their studies. . "There is always a winner in sport and we congratulate France, but it is the fruit of a policy of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who has always given sport, especially football, the utmost attention with academies where we give our young people the opportunity to fulfil their dreams," said Karima Benyaich. "We are very proud of our Atlas Lions who have worked their socks off to get here. We have to accept the result. It is a source of pride for Morocco, for the King of Morocco, for the Moroccan people and for our African and Arab brothers. But the winner is France and we congratulate them," added the Moroccan ambassador.
Karima Benyaich also stressed that the behaviour of the Moroccan fans in Spain has been exemplary during the World Cup in Qatar. "Since I have been here, I see that the Moroccans living in Spain are mostly integrated. I regret that sometimes there are stereotypes. My Moroccan community is integrated, supportive, peaceful. Spaniards are also open, tolerant and welcoming. We have to break with prejudices. The Moroccan people come, work and are always attached to their origins. That is the richness of sharing cultures. I would really like to pay tribute to my community, which is the first foreign community here in Spain with 872,000 regularised immigrants, the first to pay Social Security contributions", the diplomat indicated.
The Moroccan ambassador also invited everyone to visit her country to see the important degree of coexistence and national modernisation that exists in order to break with certain stereotypes. "Some media and some people promote a vision that is not real. Moroccans in general are peaceful, they show solidarity, they love foreigners, they like to receive and integrate. We are not a danger, we are a wealth and we contribute to the development of a friendly, brotherly and neighbourly country. We have to work much harder to build bridges. By getting to know each other we promote understanding and break down stereotypes, and the media have a fundamental role to play in this," explained Karima Benyaich herself.