October 25 – During their 2026 World Cup campaign, Moroccan officials were at pains to stress how human rights were not an issue – just as Turkey did for the 2024 Euros.
Both countries failed dismally and while there is no proof that the respective human rights records played a part, a recent ruling in Morocco provides a hint as to how democratic the country actually is.
According to agency reports, 14 fans have been jailed for – wait for it – “insulting the national flag” after they had issued Spanish flags to protest the death of a female student killed by Moroccan naval fire while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Moroccan authorities reportedly issued prison terms of between one and ten months for demonstrating at the end of September during match of their team in Tetouan, in the north of the country.
They were apparently arrested after brandishing Spanish flags and shouting slogans like ‘Viva España’ to protest the death of Hayat, a student from their hometown, killed by Moroccan gunfire who was on a boat en route for Spain.
The 14 fans were aged between 18 and 23 and were sentenced for “insulting the national flag”, “unauthorised demonstration” and “destruction of public and private property”, according to the judgment sent to AFP by their lawyer who said he intended to appeal.
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