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Morocco’s World Cup Squad Was Hit By A Crisis At Home

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Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) has retaliated against Moroccan media for accusing Moroccan footballer Zakaria Aboukhlal of religious fundamentalism.

After publishing a report accusing Aboukhlal of religious fundamentalism, the news outlet Achkayens sparked outrage. The disturbing news report had a deceptive title: “Aboukhlal, a ‘Salafi’ in the National Football team.”

Although the adjective Salafi refers to a reformist sect of Sunni Islam, it is almost synonymous with Islamist fundamentalism and ideological extremism in Morocco.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the football federation stated that it “denies the accuracy of the information included in the news report,” adding that Aboukhlal’s “behaviour, much like that of all his teammates, had been exemplary, all towards achieving honorary results.”

The federation said it would take legal action to “protect members of the national football team” and “refute all false claims that extends to their behaviour or personal lives while they are fulfilling their national duties,” in addition to slamming the report for attacking the football player and the image of the national football team.

The statement comes two days after the Arabic-language news outlet “Achkayen” published the aforementioned report.

Further down in the report, the news outlet accuses Aboukhalal of exploiting the team’s World Cup victory to “attract more followers” to adopt “his religious views that he had received from Salafi religious scholars in Europe.”

The article claims that Aboukhlal’s behaviour “pushed German media to accuse the entire team of belonging to the terrorist group,” referring to the famous incident of a German media broadcasting a segment associating Moroccan football players with the Islamic State.

However, the German report did not directly accuse the national team of being affiliated with the ISIS group; rather, it claimed that Moroccan football players display the Shahada sign – a raise of the index finger – when posing for photos, adding that the sign is “appropriate by ISIS.”

Later, the channel apologised for the report, saying it was not their intention to “offend Islamic religious feelings.”

Info source – This Day Live

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