Morocco's unexpected run at the Qatar 2022 World Cup was undoubtedly the story of the tournament. With everyone backing them up from all over the world, regardless of where they are supporting them from. Creating many new fans for the team and the sport. But amongst the unwavering support they got, none was as important and impactful as the support they got from their parents and families.
One of the secret weapons in Morocco's arsenal that many are not talking about is - family.
According to instructions from coach Walid Regragui and president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation Fouzi Lekjaa, selected family members of every player on the Moroccan team were qualified for an all-inclusive trip to Qatar.
While we often hear how wives and girlfriends of football players travel with them to the World Cup so that players ease off in foreign conditions in no time, Morocco national team urged their mothers to travel with them instead. And the players never missed an opportunity to express gratitude after every game.
In the Quran, Allah SWT has commanded us multiple times to be kind to our parents. In addition, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also reportedly instructed his companions to take good care of their parents.
Achraf Hakimi caught the media's attention when he went over to celebrate with his mother in the crowd after scoring the game-winning penalty kick in the penalty shootout victory over Spain in the round of 16. He was photographed getting a proud kiss on the cheek.
Image Credit: @achrafhakimi on Instagram
Following the win against Portugal, several videos of players embracing their parents went viral, including one of Sofiane Boufal dancing with his mother while Morocco fans applauded them.
“For me, my mum is the most important thing in my life,” Boufal said after the quarterfinal win over Portugal.
Many are already describing the videos and images of Boufal and his mother dancing as the most beautiful videos of the World Cup 2022.
Walid Regragui, the head coach, has also been spotted climbing into the stands to celebrate with his mother.
“Our success is not possible without our parents’ happiness,” coach Regragui stated.
At every win and celebration, the players went to their mothers to celebrate with them, as did even their coach Walid Regragui.
Involving players’ parents in the tournament is a deliberate morale-building strategy on Regragui’s part. Upon taking the job in August, he said: “Our success is not possible without our parents’ happiness.”.
Most commentators and social media reactions have also said that the heartwarming scenes emphasized the importance of strong family ties and the part parents play in their children's success. These images also reflect the sacrifices many families have to make due to economic constraints, particularly in the developing world, to reach this level of international success.
Image Credit: @equipedumaroc on HalalTrip
The lesson we have all learned from this is that sometimes the real superstars do not always have a name on the back of their jerseys. Instead, they can be the ones sitting in the stands among the audience, carrying the weight of their hearts in their hands because of how invested they are in the success of the players.
Morocco's fans have been among the loudest in Qatar, supporting their team to withstand onslaughts from some of the game's best players, from Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne and Croatia's Luka Modrić to Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Draped in their majestic crimson flags and armed with darbuka goblet drums, Moroccan fans turned every stadium into their own.
As soon as Morocco started piling on points in the group stage, demand for the team’s shirts and merchandise skyrocketed. Demand soared even higher after the Atlas Lions beat Spain and Portugal in the knockout stages.
There are also many Doha-based fans who began supporting Morocco after their giant-killing spree in the latter stages of the tournament.
The host nation has adopted the vivid red flag with a green star in the middle. In stadiums and fan zones, supporters from all around the Arab world proudly hoist and wave it. It is flown from cars honking their horns after each Moroccan victory, hanging from apartment balconies, and draped over skyscrapers.