So, soccer is a big deal here. They love it. My students can't get enough of it. They talk trash about Real Madrid vs Barcelona every chance they get. They have also been known to fight over these two teams...and have fought at recess about soccer. My point is: It's a big deal to everyone it seems, young and old. This post sort of has 2 different parts to it, with both relating to soccer craziness.
A couple of weeks ago there was a big soccer match here in Casablanca pitting the local 'Green Team' (Raja) against someone. I'm not sure what the implications were with this game, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that people get crazy. I mean CRAZY before, during, and after these games. We witnessed said craziness firsthand. I was riding with 4 other friends over to a house party, and we had to pass pretty close to the soccer stadium. The game had just recently ended, and Raja (the local Green Team) had obviously won. This was obvious because there were what seemed like 100,000+ crazy teen and twenty-something year old males all over the streets. As Jim turned left onto a street, we were met by a mob. And by mob, I mean the street had no other cars on it because a street-wide mass of hyped up men were coming toward us - chanting, yelling, jumping, waving flags, waving scarves, and some were weilding clubs of some sort. I felt a bit of instant fear and regret that we were on this street, as did my car-mates, but we tried to play it off and smiled and sort of cheered along with them as they completely engulfed our vehicle. (We also rolled up windows and locked doors. Except for the driver. Because of course Jim's window was broken and wouldn't go up.Bad timing for that to happen.) Due to the fact that Jim's window wouldn't roll up, and we were at a complete stop now because of the mob of men surrounding us and now climbing on the hood of the vehicle, some of these guys starting reaching IN the car through Jim's window and grabbed at him a bit. This went a bit too far and he pushed his arm out to get them away. This angered the mob a bit and they started hitting the car, eventually breaking the passenger mirror and reaching back in to steal Jim's sunglasses off his head. This was all that they got because Jim punched it. Luckily, they got out of the way and we managed to get on another street and then onto a street that had other vehicles on it. (Lesson learned to not go AWAY from traffic in these situations. People and traffic are your friends in these scenarios) There's no alcohol served in the soccer stadiums, but these boys were amped up on something besides the soccer victory, that is for sure. As we continued to drive to our party, the going was slow because of soccer traffic. I eventually took a couple of pictures (after my hand stopped shaking for fear of being beaten up in a soccer mob), trying to capture these little trucks that were driving around with nothing short of 20 people hanging on in the back.
We were able to laugh about the whole thing later while sipping cocktails at the party we went to. But these reckless men jacked up on glue, testosterone, and whatever else are nothing to mess with. The lesson we learned is: when there is a soccer game, stay the hell home!
The second part of this post having to do with soccer was this past weekend. This game was not IN Casablanca, rather it took place in Marrakesh. It was an Africa Cup qualifier (so I was told...I don't really follow this stuff), with Morocco playing against Algeria. Now, there is no love loss between these countries as it is. (There is still a disputed border that is not drawn on maps for this reason.) So, this was another HUGE game in terms of Moroccan national pride. The Morocco Lions (I didn't know national teams had a nickname, but apparently they do here?) defeated Algeria by a score of 4-0 Saturday night. We were at a friend's place playing Rock Band on the Wii when the cheers interrupted our stellar jam session. Eventually, we started hearing lots of honking. And then another friend called to say that Moroccans were taking it to the streets, driving around and hanging out of vehicles with flags, shirts, etc. honking their horns the whole way. (oh, how they love to honk their horns here!) We left our friends' place and caught a couple of taxis to get where we were going. My friend Jenny shot this video footage from her cab. She said her cabbie was very excited about the victory as well, and had the Moroccan music blaring. As you will hear. Love to see the national pride I guess...but it seemed a bit over the top for this match. I was told today, however, that Algeria's coach resigned after the game...apparently too shamed with the loss to continue coaching. Huh. So, the moral of this post is - Soccer is a really big deal here. click below to watch the video. Or, go to my facebook page as it is posted on there as well. Video of Casablanca post-soccer match craziness.