Weeks after choosing to represent the Netherlands over Morocco, Mohamed Ihattaren explains how his choice has angered many of his Moroccan fans in the Netherlands.
Rabat – In the Moroccan community in the Netherlands, Mohamed Ihattaren, the promising Dutch-Moroccan attacking midfielder, is paying the price for ditching Morocco’s national team, with some fans insulting and harassing the young player.
In a recent interview with Foxsports, Ihattaren ruefully recounted one “sad” episode that took place at the airport in Eindhoven, the Dutch city whose team the young player represents at club level. According to Ihattaren, he was recently insulted and “verbally assaulted” by a considerable number of Moroccans while coming out of the airport.
While many of the supporters were admirers of the player, some, even as they took selfies with him, told him he was a “traitor” for not choosing to play for Morocco’s Atlas Lions. Ihattaren told Foxsports that he tried to reason with some of his critics, explaining to them how he deeply loves Morocco and how his choice to represent the Netherlands was only “a sporting decision.”
But they would not listen to Ihattaren’s defense. Instead, they allegedly reminded the player that his father, who recently died of cancer, would have been proud to have his son represent his country of origin. “Your father would have never allowed you to play for the Netherlands,” one of the angry fans allegedly told Ihattaren.
The episode highlights the controversy that recently greeted the news that, after months of heated competition between Morocco’s Atlas Lions and the Netherlands’ Oranje to win over the promising attacking midfielder, the youngster chose his adoptive country over his “fatherland.”
“I played for the Netherlands for the under 14s [team] and I won the European Championship with the Under-17 team with the Oranje. It’s good that I can continue,” Ihattaren explained as he announced his final decision last month.
Amid mounting controversies in the weeks that followed that announcement, however, and with Moroccans keen to know the details of Ihattaren’s choice, the Ihattaren family eventually explained that Morocco’s footballing authority, the Royal Moroccan Federation of Football, had gone unacceptably far in their bid to convince Ihattaren.
“They came at my father’s funerals to discuss my brother’s national team choice. This was a sad day reserved for condolences. That is why we chose to distance ourselves from these people,” Yassine, the player’s big brother, insisted in an interview with Dutch outlet AD on November 23.
For critics—mostly disgruntled Atlas Lions fans—however, Ihattaren remains “just another sellout” who “betrayed” the motherland for the better prospects with the national team of his other country.