At the referee’s whistle on Tuesday, Fatima, the 54-year-old Moroccan, will have her eyes riveted on the television screen. The housewife mother of two boys also once dreamed of a career in football. In 1976, the Moroccan national team delighted him by winning the African Cup for the first time. Fatima longed to be like them.
There is an unwritten rule about Moroccan patches – teammates are chosen and decided by the owner of the ball. “I snuck out of the house with my brother’s ball and went to play with the neighborhood boys. They had no choice but to let me play,” Fatima told the waiter in an interview. . New Arabic.
If she had talent and could achieve something, she never knew. One of the neighbours, bothered by the noise of children playing, dropped the ball and complained to her parents about her shameful behavior. People then considered it a shame to play with boys. And his parents too. The girl was punished for playing football, and she did not see the ball for years.
“In my time, football would have needed a man to believe in you. They never did that in my family,” says a fan of the Atlas Lionesses, who sensationally brought down the Germans and the South Koreans in their group at the Australian Championships. Fatima now encourages not only her own, but also girls from other countries, where their football dreams have been sabotaged by men.
Two professional leagues
Fatima’s words also confirm the current success of Moroccan women footballers – a man was also behind. The transformation of Moroccan football began nine years ago, when Fúzí Likžá became the head of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation. For the first three years, the association’s new president focused solely on men’s football, but in 2017 he heard voices calling for more funding for women’s sport.
Two years later, the Moroccan federation launched a fully professional women’s football league, not only the first but also the second. There are now 42 women’s professional teams in the country, and Morocco was the first country in the world to have a second women’s professional competition. Seventy percent of clubs’ budgets, including player salaries, are covered by the federation, and all clubs must also have teams for girls under 15.
As the newspaper recalls Le Figaro, there are six million young people aged 15 to 24 in Morocco. The potential is huge.
She became a role model for Muslim women
Read about the first World Cup player to wear a Muslim headscarf:
When the Moroccan national team played in the final of the Women’s Africa Cup last year, 45,000 fans watched it at the Rabat stadium. People were chanting the names of female players like they do male football stars.
During the current championship, Morocco stood out even before starting to win. Media around the world reported on the player Nuhaile Benzina, who in the game against South Korea she went up as the first sportswoman to wear the hijab. If the World Football Federation (FIFA) has long since lifted the ban on playing with a Muslim headscarf, it still applies in some countries, including France.
Round of 16 with friends
Tuesday’s game between the Moroccans and the French has a clear favorite in the European team, but it will be spicy in many ways. A number of players from both teams know each other well as five members of the Moroccan national team make a living from football in France. French coach Hervé Renard previously coached the Moroccan men’s national team, and Morocco is being led by French strategist Reynald Pedros for a change.
After Morocco’s promotion to the championship, several players congratulated each other and wished each other good luck. Moroccan Anissa Lahmari, scorer of the winning goal against Colombia, will meet Grace Geyorova, with whom she played at Paris Saint-Germain and became friends. The French press describes the match as a “round of 16 between friends” or even “a big family”.
However, the camaraderie will be put aside for a moment on Tuesday: “It will be a very difficult match, but if we are in the state of mind where we are now, we can hope to progress. We will do everything for this”, promised Pedros quoted by the newspaper The morning. He then recalled that the championship is full of surprises.
Moroccan women have a chance not only to emulate the success of their male league colleagues in Qatar, but also to convince the latest national conservatives that times have definitely changed. Even in Muslim Morocco.
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