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World Cup 2022: Palestine wins on the pitch following Morocco's historic victory

Morocco celebrates 1-0 victory in World Cup quarter-finals against Portugal with players unfurling Palestinian flag
Abdelhamid Sabiri posted a photo on Instagram of himself with the Palestinian flag draped around his shoulder accompanied by a one-word caption: "Freedom" (Abdelhamid Sabiri/Instagram)

Palestine took centre stage as Morocco celebrated its victory in the World Cup quarter-finals against Portugal with the Palestinian flag unfurled on the pitch. 

Exalted following its stunning 1-0 victory, the Moroccan national team brought the Palestinian cause to the pitch yet again as players gathered in celebration on Saturday. 

World Cup 2022: Morocco make history by beating Portugal and heading to semis
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The win makes Morocco the first African and Arab side to reach a World Cup semi-final, but many have named Palestine the real winner, as its cause continues to make waves during the global sporting event in Qatar

Not long after the clearing the pitch, midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri posted a photo on Instagram of himself with the Palestinian flag tied around his shoulders accompanied by a one-word caption: "Freedom". Later he gave interviews to broadcasters at the game still wearing the flag. 

With the Qatar World Cup the first to be held in an Arab country, Morocco has been backed by fans from Iraq to Algeria who cheered its progress into the knockout stages. 

Palestine, however, has also seen notable support throughout the competition, especially among those hailing from other Arab nations. Such grassroots support is juxtaposed against the normalisation deals signed with Israel by Arab countries such as Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and others. 

'No normalisation with Israel'

Hanan Ashrawi, a former Palestinian legislator, following Saturday’s win took to Twitter to highlight Palestine’s support for the Moroccan team and celebrate its reciprocation, saying that “No regime ‘normalisation’ with Israel can break the bond between our peoples”.

Amro Ali, Middle East analyst and professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo echoed Ashrawi’s sentiments, calling Palestine “the winner in this World Cup”. 

“Arab regimes can pursue normalisation, but the people of the Arab world will have the final say,” Ali said.

"The Qatar World Cup continues to show the people of the Arab world are not as ready as their leaders to abandon the Palestinian cause and embrace cynical Kushner/Netanyahu plans for peace without justice," journalist Robert Mackey tweeted.

From refusing interviews with Israeli journalists, to chanting songs and waving banners in support of Palestine, fans and players alike have been vocal about their support for the anti-occupation cause at this year’s world cup. 

Morocco as well has made Palestine a priority even before Saturday’s win, unveiling the Palestinian flag on the pitch post-game after their sensational penalty shoot-out win against Spain on Tuesday

Meanwhile, the people of Palestine returned such support on Saturday evening, with crowds jamming traffic as massive celebrations erupted in the streets across Palestinian neighbourhoods in Israel, the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza following Morocco’s big win.

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