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Morocco demands Adidas withdraw Algeria football tops

Morocco has asked German sportswear giant Adidas to cancel newly designed football tops for arch-rival Algeria accusing it of appropriating “Moroccan cultural heritage”, according to a lawyer’s letter seen Thursday.

Moroccan lawyer Mourad Elajouti, on behalf of the culture ministry, says that a geometrical design pattern known as “zellige”, common in Morocco’s multi-coloured ceramic mosaics, appears on the Algerian top.

In a letter sent to Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted, Elajouti demanded the withdrawal within two weeks of the Algerian sports top it claimed was “inspired by the art” of Moroccan zellige.

In a copy of the letter seen by AFP, the lawyer denounces “cultural appropriation and an attempt to steal a form of Moroccan cultural heritage”.

On September 23, Adidas released on Twitter a photo of the new 2022-2023 season kit for the Algerian national team it said was “inspired by culture and history”.

The design, according to Adidas, draws its inspiration from the Mechouar Palace in Tlemcen, in northwestern Algeria.

Morocco and Algeria have long been at odds over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, where the Algiers-backed Polisario Front is seeking independence from Rabat’s rule.

Algeria severed ties in August 2021, accusing Rabat of “hostile acts”, a move which Morocco said was “completely unjustified”.   

“The Moroccan Ministry of Culture reserves the right to use all possible legal remedies before the German and international courts”, the lawyer added in the letter.

It also threatens to bring the case “before organisations relating to the protection of heritage and copyright” including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

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