Jemaa el Fnaa market, Marrakesh, Morocco

Sports in Morocco: Beyond Soccer

Cover photo: sunset over Jemaa el-Fnaa market, Marrakesh, Morocco

Moroccan Soccer – FIFA 2022

The Cinderella story of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, thus far, has been the success of the Moroccan side. Having bested Croatia, Belgium, Canada, and Spain, and, having allowed only one goal (an own-goal against Canada) during the tournament, the Moroccans find themselves in the quarterfinal round of 8. In large part, they have the stellar and consistent performance of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to thank. In the round of 16, he held off an offensive onslaught by the Spanish side and prevented three penalty kicks from reaching the net. This Moroccan squad is the first African team to make it to the quarterfinals since Ghana in 2010. They face Portugal this coming Saturday, December 10, 2022.

Sports In Morocco: Beyond Soccer

While the Maghreb nation is not known as a sports powerhouse on the international scene, Morocco has had a number of athletic luminaries. Read brief profiles on four of them below.

Mehdi Bennani

Currently competing for Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, racecar driver Mehdi Bennani is no stranger to the podium. In 341 races, he has won 27 times and reached the podium 72 times. He is the first Moroccan driver to have won a race sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. In 2020, he ranked 1st in the TCR Europe Touring Car Series.

Nawal El Moutawakel

At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Nawal El Moutawakel became the first Arab, African, and Muslim female gold medalist in any event and the first Moroccan of any gender to win a gold medal. She won the 400-meter hurdles in Los Angeles in a time of 54.61 seconds. Born in Casablanca, she studied at Iowa State University in the US and won an NCAA championship there.

Badr Hari

The “Bad Boy” of kickboxing, Badr Hari has amassed a professional record of 106 wins, 17 losses, and 2 no contests during his 20-year career. This includes 92 knockouts and technical knockouts. Born in Amsterdam to Moroccan parents, he was a Dutch kickboxing champion and K-1 heavyweight champion. He currently represents Morocco in the ring.

Hicham El Guerrouj

Arguably the greatest of Moroccan athletes, middle-distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj currently holds three world records, which he set more than two decades ago. These are:

  • 1500 meters in 3:26.00
  • The mile in 3:43.13
  • 2000 meters in 4:44.79

He is best remembered for his stunning performances at the 2004 Athens Olympic games, where he won gold in both the 1500-meter and 5000-meter races. He was the first competitor to accomplish the feat in 80 years.

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