A dispute has broken out between World Cup participants Morocco and archrival Algeria over a jersey collection for the Algerian national football team. The designers used “Moroccan cultural heritage,” lawyer Mourad Elajouti wrote to adidas on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, urging the German manufacturer to withdraw the jersey within two weeks.
Specifically, it is about the shape of a geometric mosaic, known as a zellij, which is one of the main characteristics of architecture, especially in Morocco. This is used on the shirts and thus represents a cultural appropriation, writes the lawyer to Adidas boss Kasper Rorsted in a letter that the news agency “AFP” was able to see.
Adidas, in turn, described the top, which is part of the new “culture wear” collection, as “inspired by El Mechouar Palace”. This is in Tlemcen in northwestern Algeria. From a Moroccan point of view, however, the palace was built during a period of Moroccan rule.
Relations between Algeria and Morocco have been bad for decades. One of the issues at stake is the status of Western Sahara.
The dispute over the jersey also caused amusement, for example with Moroccan TV presenter Abdellah Tourabi. “We are moving into the absurd,” the journalist wrote on Twitter, asking if “the Spaniards are going to complain to Morocco because they stole large parts of their kitchen… which in turn was taken over by the Arabs… who bought them from have the Persians.”