Moroccan fans appear to scuffle with Israel flag holders at World Cup
Footage shows supporters apparently trying to snatch banner, after Morocco loses and suffers early exit from soccer tournament
Supporters of the Moroccan soccer team scuffled Wednesday with fans holding Israeli flags at the end of Morocco’s loss to Portugal in the FIFA World Cup.
Video footage taken seconds after the end of the match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow appeared to show several fans wearing Morocco’s colors confronting two men wearing Israeli flags and trying to pull the pennants off them. The Israeli fans said later, however, that the scuffle was not over the flag but, rather, over a shirt thrown into the crowd by one of the Moroccan team players.
There were no reports of injuries and the incident was over relatively quickly.
The flag could be seen on TV throughout the match but didn’t seem to draw the ire of the Moroccan fans until they suffered their second consecutive loss in the World Cup and were eliminated from the tournament.
Moroccan fans interviewed later by Israeli public broadcaster Kan, who weren’t involved in the incident, condemned the use of violence but added that “when we hear that people are shot ‘by mistake’ on the border, of course we don’t want anything representing that country to be here.”
At least 132 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since protests at the border with Gaza began at the end of March. Israel has said most of those killed were members of terror groups, many of whom were in the middle of carrying out attacks or attempting to breach or damage the fence when they were shot. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were members of their organizations.
Portugal beat Morocco 1-0 in the match as Cristiano Ronaldo scored his fourth goal of the World Cup, condemning the north African team to an early exit.
The five-time world player of the year netted with an early header to go with the hat-trick he scored to rescue the European champions against Spain in their tournament opener.
AFP, Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.