The new jersey of the Algerian selection, unveiled on September 23, poses a problem in Morocco. According to the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, it is pure and simple plagiarism. “This is a flight of patterns inspired by “Moroccan zellige” (ceramic characteristic of traditional Moroccan decorative art) which appear on Algerian sports jerseys, which prompted the ministry to act urgently”, an internal source said on Thursday.
In a formal notice sent by e-mail and by bailiff to the CEO of Adidas Kasper Rorsted, the Moroccan lawyer denounced “a cultural appropriation and an attempt to steal a motif from Moroccan cultural heritage to use it outside of its context”. Me Mourad Eladditioni demanded the withdrawal within a fortnight of the collection of jerseys by the German sports equipment manufacturer which, according to him, drew its inspiration from the palace of Mechouar in Tlemcen, in the north-west of Algeria.
Possible legal remedies?
This controversy arises in a climate of permanent tension between the two Maghreb rivals. Algeria severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in August 2021, accusing Rabat of“hostile acts”. A decision “completely unjustified”according to Rabat. “The Moroccan Ministry of Culture reserves the right to use all possible legal remedies before German and international courts”, warns the lawyer in his letter.
He also threatens to take the case “before organizations relating to the protection of heritage and copyright, Unesco and the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), in order to protect the elements of the Moroccan cultural heritage from illicit attempts at appropriation”.