By Said Leghlid
By Said Leghlid
Ohio- It’s been a ubiquitous ten day journey in the lives of every Moroccan who was almost oblivious to the thunderous miracles that unfolded in front of their eyes.
It was at first a barely known event that took place for the first time in the history of Moroccan football/soccer known as FIFA’s world cup of clubs. FIFA is an acronym that stands for Federation International de Football Association. It is also a respected football organization that is perhaps one of most popular names in the world of sports. FIFA is the organizing body of the sought after World Cup of Nations and has the prestigious power to decide which country to host it.
Windfalls from such events are an economic boon for the host countries since viewership is the highest and is estimated to reach about four and a half billion viewers in 2014. According to FIFA’s 2010 world cup statistics from South Africa: “The in-home television coverage of the competition reached over 3.2 billion people around the world, or 46.4 per cent of the global population”. And who does not recall the loud Vuvuzelas from South Africa?
In 2011 Morocco was one of the final four standing countries with bids for the FIFA Club World Cup, and ended up as the official host country after Iran, South Africa and United Emirates all withdrew their bids. Morocco will host the same tournament again from 10 to 20 December 2014.
Will top seeded Raja of Casablanca or its rival Widad of Casablanca be featured in the finals next year? This is going to be a major point of contention and analysis and the burden of stardom performance will cast its unyielding critical malevolent wings on every club, and at the top of the receiving end: The newly crowned darling Raja Club of Morocco.
Most Moroccans will naturally say wait a minute! Anticipating December 2014 is a little too soon. We are still fully vested emotionally and ambitiously in the middle of perhaps one of the best hangovers to sweep Morocco in years, and the swift injection of a cheerful and hopeful overdose was badly needed. The Raja phenomenon that is slowly sinking in the often mind bungled and now boggled Moroccans who in the fleeting ten days of tournaments have barely had a chance to let it all sink in.
In the last ten days, a lot of history was made in Morocco, and it happened so fast that one has to roll back the clock and savor every minute with a second look at how it all went about. Many of the stars had to align for a perfect Raja of Casablanca tournament, a previously unknown team in world stage defeated Aukland City of New Zeland Champions of the 2012-2013 OFC League, Mexico’s Monterrey and faced Atletico Miniero of Brazil with its armada of some of the best players on earth. Miniero’s roster of at least six megastar players, including Ronaldinho and their earnings each surpass the entire yearly operating budget of Raja Club, and that win over the Brazilian magicians of soccer may be the pinnacle of Raja’s achievements.
In the final game, Morocco’s Raja faced off against one of the oldest and most decorated clubs whose natural rivals are Real Madrid, Barcelona, A.C. Milan, and Manchester United. Bayern Munich’s players are common household names in today’s world of who’s who in soccer: French player Ribery voted MVP of the tournament 2013, daunting Dante, super elusive Thiago, Muller, Pizzaro, Alaga and Rafinha to name a few. In a David versus Goliath match up, the world braced for a slaughter but Raja gave up two goals and all it could muster despite overwhelming odds that favored Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich came out ahead with the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup trophy winning the final match 2-0.
Where does Moroccan Soccer go from here and what is the significance of the win? This is a Cinderella story that has the potential to replicate itself because it has all the ingredients of an amazing psychological lift to the Moroccan perspective on doing a lot with teamwork. It could serve as a breakthrough in how Moroccans approach other unsurmountable tasks and odds at succeeding in everything they touch or do.
Raja may serve as a motto to all that in life that David can at times match up to Goliath and win. Raja’s story on this 2013 may have seriously awakened the sleepy spirit of candoism beyond the routine of stagnating and resigned attitudes toward defeat. A weighing chronic sociological psychosis was eating at the fabric of shying at the prospect of competitive spirit against one’s self for the sake of winning for the self and for all.
My hope is that Moroccans could use this spark of unprecedented motivated action to start working on building a future for its upcoming generations and instilling this uncompromising spirit of reaching heights previously thought of as achievements that only those on the other side of the fence are capable of. Morocco was also the ambassador to many nations who yearned for the same goals, one at a time.
There is nothing greater than finding a sense of purpose in mutual responsibility and team work. Our aim is to also find harmony and unity with those who might envy us. Nothing is more symbolic than seeing Morocco’s neighbors to the east cheer us from the bottom of their hearts.
In an unselfish sportsman’s like spirit of friendship, we reciprocate to all that this achievement is not only for Raja and the Moroccans, but also for Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, for the Arab World, and for Africa and the world who believed and trusted that Moroccans had that fighting spirit in the most fascinating sport on earth.
Obviously, making it to the final was a feat that has its merits and speaks volumes about the little club that could. Raja’s achievements will definitely linger in the minds of every Moroccan, the Arab World, and African soccer in general for years to come. Our fascination is equally sparked by the will to conquer our fears of success, and our ability to get back on our feat to defy the odds of defeat.