Morocco Insists That Adidas Withdraw the Algerian Football Jersey

Morocco has accused Adidas of plagiarizing elements of Moroccan culture for a new collection of football uniforms designed for Algeria's national team.

The government of Morocco has demanded that the sportswear company Adidas must withdraw a new collection of the Algeria national football team’s jerseys from the market. The Moroccan government accuses Adidas of appropriating “Moroccan cultural heritage” in making the demand.

The Moroccan Ministry of Youth, Culture, and Media issued a statement this week claiming that the design on the Algerian team’s jersey depicts a traditional mosaic of colored terracotta tiles called “zellige” in Morocco.

In the statement, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture referred to the practice as “cultural appropriation,” which they defined as “an attempt to rob a traditional form of Moroccan cultural heritage.”

Morocco sent a letter to the CEO of Adidas, Kasper Rorsted, requesting that the jersey be withdrawn from sale within two weeks or that the company be required to issue a statement that “identifies the Moroccan art of zellige” as an inspiration.

In addition to this, it made threats to bring the matter “before organizations involved in the protection of heritage and copyright,” specifically the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The art and craft of Zellige can be found and are practiced across the entirety of North Africa as well as the autonomous region of Spain known as Andalusia.

An attorney for the Moroccan government told a news agency that he had been instructed by the Ministry of Culture to send “a legal warning” to Adidas. This information was provided by the attorney to the AP news agency.

The new design was revealed by Adidas a week ago, and the company stated on its Instagram accounts in the Middle East and North Africa that the “Algerian cultural apparel collection” was motivated by the “architectural design of El Palace.” Iconic Mechouar is located in the city of Tlemcen in the northern Algerian province of Tlemcen.

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