In one fell swoop, a symbol of honor and hospitality was transmogrified into another lightning rod of the culture war surrounding this World Cup. The bisht does not have any of the usual negative connotations surrounding other Arab and Muslim symbols like the hijab. It is only Arab. And that association in and of itself is enough to indicate an inherent flaw and tarnish.
Yet the visceral nature of the emotional response to Morocco’s campaign cannot be denied, the feeling that something deeper than simply belonging to the Global South is at play.
As the World Cup Begins in Doha, I Remember the Rivalries of Egyptian Teams
This chronic failure over such impossibly low stakes necessitates that Arabs following international competitions hedge their bets, since the obsession with football won’t go away simply because their national teams are relegated to watching. This leads to fervent support for international clubs and European and Latin American national teams, with a fanaticism and enthusiasm that make one believe they hail originally from Munich, Sao Paolo or Manchester.