Moroccan football propaganda

Ronaldinho supports colonization of Africa’s last colony

Former Brazilian football world champion Ronaldinho played a gala match in celebration of the anniversary of Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara, together with several other former star players, on Tuesday.
08. november 2018

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Ronaldinho, who was named World Player of the Year three times, was joined by Rivaldo and Cafu from the Brasilian World Cup winning side of 2002 amongst other former star players, according to goal.com and Morocco World News.

The match was played in front of 20.000 fans at the Stade Sheikh Mohamed Laghdaf in El Aaiun, in the Moroccan colony of Western Sahara, in connection with Morocco’s annual celebration of the so-called “Green March”. In 1975, Moroccan troops, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of Moroccan civilians, invaded Western Sahara in violation of the Geneva Convention.

There is not much to celebrate in Western Sahara for its people, however. Freedom of speech and assembly is severely limited, protests against the Moroccan colonial power are violently dispersed, and the colonial regime routinely uses torture against protesters, Amnesty International state in their annual reports.

According to the latest annual report from US organization Freedom House, Western Sahara is ranked as one of the most repressive countries in the world, with a freedom rating of just 4 out of 100 - worse than Saudi Arabia.

World stars support colonization
Several other former world stars played in the match, according to Morocco World News and Huffington Post. These included Italian 2006 World Champion Gianluca Zambrotta, former Argentinian international Javier Saviola, former Colombian internationals Rene Higuita and Carlos Valderrama, former French international David Trezeguet, former Senegalese internationals El Hadji Diouf and Khalilou Fadiga, Tunesian Zoubeir Beya, Egyptian Mido, Ghanean Abedi Pele, Roger Milla from Cameroon, and former Dutch international and present Cameroon manager, Clarence Seedorf.

Previously, other former stars including Diego Maradona and George Weah have participated in similar matches in Western Sahara. The Moroccan cup final has also been played at Stade Sheikh Mohamed Laghdaf in El Aaiun.

Ronaldinho tweeted a picture of himself in the Western Saharan desert with a Moroccan flag, and other players including Javier Saviola and Carlos Valderrama, tweeted pictures from the event.

Football as propaganda
Morocco often uses (former) sports stars and sports events to promote its claims to Western Sahara, even though the International Court of justice rejected this claim in 1975, weeks before the Green March and Morocco’s colonization of Western Sahara. Neither the UN nor any nation recognizes Morocco’s claims to Western Sahara.

In Morocco’s official presentation of their candidature for the 2026 World Cup, Western Sahara was shown as a part of Morocco, a hospital in Western Sahara’s capital El Aaiun was included in a list of Moroccan facilities to be used at the World Cup, and several windfarms that Morocco have built in Western Sahara in violation of international law were claimed to be situated in Morocco.

Former footballers Lothar Matthaus, Roberto Carlos and Zlatan Ibrahimovic supported Morocco’s bid for the 2026 World Cup.


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