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Why Morocco is called MAR and not MOR in World Cup broadcast

Morocco players Hakim Ziyech (L) and Achraf Hakimi. [Courtesy of Getty Images]

Social media users have been wondering why Morocco is abbreviated as MAR and not MOR at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Ideally, FIFA codes for participant countries in the World Cup come from the first three letters of a country’s English name.

For instance, Croatia is abbreviated as CRO; England (ENG), Portugal (POR), Qatar (QAT), Brazil (BRA), France (FRA), Senegal (SEN), Germany (GER), among others.

There are, however, certain countries where the codes are picked from three letters within the nation’s name, and not necessarily the first three letters.

Examples include Japan, which is abbreviated as JPN, Cameroon (CMR), Netherlands (NED), among others.

Morocco, Spain, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia, however, take a completely different naming pattern during World Cup coverage.

For Morocco, its French name is Maroc. You’ll remember that the French colonised Morocco, an African country, between 1912 and 1956.

For long, the French culture and influence over Morocco remained, spilling over into sporting activities.

Morocco is an English name of the north African country, while Maroc is the original French name for the nation.

FIFA usually adopts the French name in its abbreviation for Morocco during broadcasts.

Morocco will play against Portugal on Saturday, December 10, at the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The match will be aired at 6pm East Africa Time.

Morocco became the fourth African country to reach the quarter-final of a World Cup tournament after Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010).

In its journey to the quarter-finals, Morocco upset 2010 World Cup winners Spain 3-0 in post-match penalties after a goalless draw in extra-time. That fete marked the first time in Morocco’s history to advance to the last eight stage in a World Cup tournament.

In the group stages of the World Cup, Morocco beat Belgium 2-0 to cement its top position in Group F. Belgium, according to FIFA rankings, is placed at Number Two in the world, behind Brazil.

Even though the official languages of Morocco are Arabic and Tamazight, French continues to have a powerful position there as a holdover from the colonial era.

Spain, on the other hand, is abbreviated as ESP during FIFA broadcasts because citizens of the country spell the nation’s name as Espahnia. FIFA adopted a broadcast code for Spain from how the Spaniards spell the name of their country.

Spain is the English version for Espahnia.

Saudi Arabia is abbreviated as KSA, and not SAU, because it is formally referred to as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) during FIFA events.

Switzerland, on the other hand, is referred to as SUI and not SWI because the International Olympic Committee – which is based in Switzerland – uses French and English as its official languages.

In French, Switzerland is called Suisse.