In recent years, acts of violence involving young football fans have claimed the lives of several youth and injured hundreds.
Rabat – Casablanca police have arrested four individuals, allegedly members of local football fan associations, known as Ultras, for exchange of violence and assault on property, said a statement from Morocco’s General Directorate of National Security (DGSN).
The arrest operation took place on Wednesday, June 17, in the Errahma neighborhood, eastern Casablanca.
According to DGSN’s report, the four suspects, who support two rival teams in Casablanca, entered a conflict which escalated into a skirmish when the individuals began throwing rocks at each other.
The skirmish had caused damage to three parked cars before the police officers intervened to arrest the individuals involved.
The suspects, aged 18 to 22, will remain in custody pending investigations, while a search operation is ongoing to arrest other individuals who were involved in the crime but fled the scene.
According to Morocco’s penal code, the suspects could face between one month and one year in prison for the exchange of violence, as well as a three-month to one-year sentence for causing damage to property.
The suspects could also face charges for violating the state of emergency, as Casablanca, the city with the highest COVID-19 case count in the country, remains under strict lockdown.
Patterns of hooliganism in Morocco
The phenomenon of hooliganism is a major problem among Moroccan youth, especially in cities with clubs who have a very large fanbase, such as Raja and Wydad of Casablanca and AS FAR of Rabat.
In recent years, several violent incidents occurred during clashes between rival Ultras members, not only causing damage to property, but also causing injuries and claiming lives.
In 2016, the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) held a series of meetings about hooliganism with representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Justice.
The meetings came following acts of violence between the Green Boys and the Ultras Eagles, two Ultras that support Raja Casablanca. The skirmishes on March 19, 2016, at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca resulted in the death of three young fans.
In response to the recurring acts of violence, the Ministry of the Interior decided to ban all Ultras activities in the country.
The interministerial meetings have also led to the adoption of Law 09.09 relating to acts of violence during sporting events. The law introduced severe punishments to acts of hooliganism.
However, despite the attempts to put an end to violence between football fans, the phenomenon continues to exist.
In 2020 alone, a few weeks before the suspension of all football games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two major episodes of violence occurred.
On February 14, following a game between AS FAR of Rabat and Raja Casablanca, a group of fans attacked a bus full of regular passengers. The young aggressors carried knives, threw rocks at the bus, and attempted to stop the vehicle. Security services were able to identify and arrest 13 suspects.
One day later, on February 15, a second incident occurred in Safi after a game between the local club and Saudi Arabia’s Ittihad Jeddah.
Unsatisfied with the game’s result, Safi’s fans destroyed the stadium’s seats and threw them on the pitch before causing more damage to public property outside the stadium. Police arrested 12 suspects.