DEARBORN — A very excited crowd banged drums and waved mostly Moroccan flags during Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal watch party, hosted by Mayor Abdullah Hammoud at the Michael A. Guido Theater.
The Morocco fans — nearly everyone in attendance — were unwaveringly optimistic, cheering each time the Morocco team dribbled the ball down the field.
Morocco, the first African and Arab team ever to make it to the semifinals, lost 2-0 to France after a hard-fought game in Qatar. France will go on to play Argentina in the final on Sunday and Morocco will play Croatia on Saturday in a battle for third place.
The crowd didn’t let the loss bring their spirits down.
“People understand that it’s a celebration that Morocco was where they are at this point,” Hammoud told the Detroit Free Press. “So I don’t think it’s a loss in that sense.”
Morocco’s match against France, its former colonizer, was politically charged for some party attendees. The two countries have a long history. The French colonized Morocco from 1912 to 1956. Today, the countries are trade partners, but relations remain complicated, Al Jazeera reported.
“I’m a proud Arab American, you know,” Hammoud said before the game. “USA is obviously out now, so we’re all rooting for the Arab American or Arab team. This is a Cinderella story. This is the true story of David versus Goliath. They’ve upset Belgium and Spain. They’ve upset Portugal. And we’re hoping today to deliver another upset over France.”
The theater, with a 1,200 capacity, was packed to the brim. The watch party was free and attendees reserved tickets online.
Hammoud told The Arab American News more than 2,000 people attended the match.
“We want to create an event that families can come and enjoy,” he said.
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