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Adidas, Morocco resolve row over Algeria football jerseys

German sportswear giant Adidas said Friday a row with Morocco over a design on a football top for arch-rivals Algeria had been resolved, and that it regretted the controversy.

Last month, Rabat asked Adidas to axe the new tops, accusing it of appropriating “Moroccan cultural heritage” due to the use of a pattern known as “zellige”, common in Moroccan ceramic mosaics.

A lawyer acting for the culture ministry demanded the withdrawal within two weeks of the jerseys which he claimed was “inspired” by the colourful Moroccan designs. 

Adidas reported Friday a “positive resolution” to the dispute following talks with the ministry, and the tops, worn by the Algerian team for pre-match warm-ups, will not be withdrawn.

“The design was inspired indeed by the zellige mosaics pattern, and was at no time intended to offend anyone,” said the company in a statement.

“We would like to express our deep respect to the people and craftsmen of Morocco and regret the controversy surrounding this case.”

Mourad Elajouti, the lawyer acting for the culture ministry, welcomed the news, saying the case highlighted “the importance of defending our cultural heritage and the ancestral know-how of Moroccan craftmanship”.

But there were signs of fresh problems for Adidas — local media in Algeria reported the country’s football federation is not satisfied with the sports giant, and is thinking of terminating its contract with them.

An Adidas spokesman said he would not comment on press speculation.

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, drew its inspiration from the Mechouar Palace in Tlemcen, in northwestern Algeria.

Ties between Morocco, which has qualified for the World Cup finals that kick off in Qatar next month, and Algeria, which has not, have long been shaky. 

The neighbours are 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”.   

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