“Where is this?” wonders Juan Pablo Escobar Henao over a social media post with an image of the Maghreb de Fes sports club.
Rabat – The eldest son of Pablo Escobar, Juan Pablo Escobar Henao, posted on Facebook a photo of street art covering an outside wall of a Fez Ultras club with his father’s portrait.
Drawn by the Ultra Fatal Tigers group, the Pablo Escobar image apparently aroused Esobar Henao’s interest. After discovering the photo, he shared it and questioned, “where is this?”
Followers of the Colombian drug lord’s son identified the photo as belonging to walls of the Maghreb de Fes sports club. An image of the local team’s yellow and black tiger mascot and the words “MAS O MAS” accompany Escobar’s portrait.
MAS, standing for “Maghreb al Fassi” is presumably a play on Escobar’s infamous “plata o plomo” — a Colombian Spanish slang phrase that translates to “silver or lead.” The phrase offers a clear-cut ultimatum: Accept the bribe or lose your life.
The Ultras’ controversial culture
The Ultras, a politically charged organization that is made up of multiple subgroups and assembled in the spirit of devotion to their favorite football teams, have struggled to make their voices heard in the mainstream.
Mamer Alomari, an SIT graduate and independent researcher, positions the organization on the brink between “political activists or violent fans.”
“In the Moroccan context, Ultras represent a section of the population with their social manifestations including their view on politics and social issues,” he writes in his 2019 capstone paper.
“Nowadays, the Ultras are facing scrutiny from the government under the pretenses of ensuring the safety of stadiums and protecting stadiums from acts of vandalism and destruction.”
While some view the youth-led organization as passionate changemakers, the majority associate membership within the Ultras as criminal or socially disruptive.
The group itself is also divided between two classifications of fans, with some insisting on peaceful political involvement and football fandom and others resorting to violence or undesirable gang-like behaviors, sometimes referred to as “hooliganism” — that may derive inspiration from “the world’s greatest outlaw.”
Pablo Escobar’s history in Morocco
Escobar, renowned for being the wealthiest criminal in history and a kingpin in powerful drug cartels, spent time in Morocco during the early 1990s negotiating between European and Moroccan drug traffickers.
According to Jose Manuel Caamano, a Tangier native who worked for Spain’s National Police Corps and managed to infiltrate the Galician clans (drug trafficking groups in the Spanish region of Galicia, known as the European entry point for Colombian cocaine), Escobar owned a luxury home in Morocco and toyed with various business deals in the country.
In 1992, Caamano said he met Escobar and advised him against illicit merchandising in Morocco, citing a number of challenges.