A stadium visit in Morocco differs from the European experience in several ways. At Chabab Mohammedia – Wydad Casablanca we witness this. We find chaos around the stadium and long queues for the entrance. During the match, things go wild: about 80% are supporters of the visiting club and the supporters sing the entire match!
Two days before the game we see that we can get tickets at the stadium one day before the game. It is not clear whether there are still sales on the match day, so we decide to take the train to Mohammedia. Tickets are sold from several counters and we manage to secure two tickets for the covered grandstand.
Later that day we get into a conversation with a taxi driver and we tell them that we are going to this match. He tells us to go on time, because otherwise it might already be full. And full is full in Morocco, it doesn’t matter if you already have a ticket. Given the opponent, Wydad, we expect quite a few visitors. Mohammedia is located about 25 kilometers from Casablanca. We embrace the advice of the driver and on the match day we arrive at the station at 19:30.
On the street we see many supporters, although it is striking that they are all supporters of Wydad. At the stadium we see that we have to go to the other side: our stands are on the other side. This will be a challenge, because we are standing next to the grandstand of the away section and there are a lot of supporters in this street. The street is also closed off with fences and several lines of police officers. We ask an agent and steward if we can go straight ahead in front of the other grandstand and this is possible. Walking through the crowd, we have to pass such fences several times and show our cards a few times before we can pass. The funny thing is, some cops don’t expect us to show up for the game, they probably think we’re lost.
Meanwhile, we see that the stands behind the goal, the away section, are already packed. And that while the game will only start two hours later. We wonder if all these supporters will still come in, because there are still hundreds of supporters outside. The entrance further on is also used as an extra section, but there are also many supporters pushing to get in here. Fortunately, our grandstand has a different entrance and we don’t have to stand in this line.
Challenge to enter
Next to us are two supporters of Wydad who are in the same situation: they also have to go to the other side. They hear that we should go there too and we are immediately welcomed enthusiastically. They tell us about the situation: almost everyone in the stadium is for Wydad. In the covered stands, only the center section will be for Chabab and a section behind the goal will be reserved for home supporters.
We are now showing our card for the fourth time, although we are now finally in line. Despite being relatively quiet in this line, it is still quite stressful with supporters squeezing to get in. The two supporters indicate that we should follow them and also give us a few times in the chaos to ensure that we get through without any problems.
We are searched twice and after our card has been torn up we are inside. This feels like a relief, because entering such a chaotic situation does not seem certain. We take a seat next to the two supporters and they tell us all about their club and football in Morocco. We don’t feel unsafe, at most we are watched every now and then, but it is still nice to be the only two tourists in the entire stadium to sit next to two local boys.
Full is full
Another hour and a half until the game starts and all stands are almost completely full. Half an hour later we see that a group of agents is standing in front of the gates and that no one is entering anymore. This is not necessary if it is not full, but it happens that too many cards are printed. The tickets for this pot are not provided with a barcode or a seat number.
There are supporters on the wall of Stade El Bachir. Especially the sides of the away section look as if no supporter can reach it anymore. Chabab’s box still has room, although it is understandable that they will not give this to supporters of Wydad. The visitors have nothing to complain about with all the extra places that have been made available.
Passion in the stands
At 21:30 there is finally a kick-off and we see a tifo on both sides. This is the moment when the whole stadium starts singing. Even where we are, far away from the main entertainment sector, everyone participates. The first half is non-stop singing and jumping by the supporters of the home and away team. The Banda Rossa, the hard core of Chabab, will not make it in terms of numbers against the rest, but that does not prevent them from making noise continuously.
The fact that the entire stadium is fanatical makes it special in the stands. In contrast to many other clubs and countries, you see that here it is not one section or stand where the sound comes from.
The first half is one and all enjoyment. Wydad also goes into the break comfortably with 0-2. Surrounded by supporters of Wydad, it is of course best if they come out on top, so that we can join in the celebrations.
Fireworks are not missing
After the break we notice that there is a new banner on Wydad’s side. An omen or sneaky hope that some fireworks might go up in the sky. In the course of the second half, this wish comes true: en masse the entire stand behind the goal turns red from the smoke. In combination with white stroboscopes an impressive and great view.
On the field, Chabab does something back thanks to a clumsy own goal from the visitors, which makes it worth watching there too. Wydad struggles through the second half and is having a hard time. Just before time, the hard core of Chabab, who is still singing the entire match, gives their performance some shine by also coming up with a pyro action. Some pots are lit in the stands and then some torches follow.
Filming this action is not appreciated. I have taken this into account, but I can’t resist. Kindly and respectfully, a few supporters ask me not to do this. “Sorry, but it’s not Wydad, that’s why,” they say. They themselves apologize for this. This is as we have seen it many times during our visit to the country: the people are civilized and friendly. After the game, the same supporters take a picture with us.
This is Morocco
Chabab also scores an own goal just before time, allowing Wydad to put the points in the bag. After the final whistle, it is noticeable that the players do not do an extensive round of thanks and that many supporters also go outside. About five minutes after the final whistle, we are asked by stewards to leave the stadium.
Experiencing the football experience in Morocco is surprising and special in several ways. For example, the smell of hash that creeps up your nose, supporters who pass out or a fight in the stands of Chabab. Wydad definitely stole our hearts this evening. The passion and hospitality of the supporters is something that stays with us for a long time.
Towards the exit it is noticeable that hundreds of supporters have to go through one small gate and that the other gates are not open. I wonder aloud why they don’t just open an extra port. Our Moroccan friends answer for the umpteenth time this evening: ‘This is Morocco.’
Pyro, choreos and riots; the Casablanca derby is the greatest game on earth
Visiting the Ultras Winners of Wydad Casablanca
Raja Casablanca; visiting Morocco’s raw workers’ club