Morocco have been one of the stories of the World Cup so far, becoming the first African nation to reach a semifinal after topping a difficult group featuring Belgium and Croatia.
Their fans have also made positive headlines, from the high numbers of supporters that have converged in the Middle Eastern country to back the Atlas Lions, to the fantastic noise and atmosphere they bring to games.
But one thing that neutral fans and viewers at home on TV have noticed is the accompanying soundtrack to Morocco matches at the World Cup, including a large amount of whistling from the fans of the North African country.
The Sporting News explains all, and why the fans of Morocco — and other countries — choose to whistle loudly during matches.
MORE: Morocco vs France follow the action live
Why are fans whistling at the World Cup?
If you haven’t noticed it during games yet, you will now!
Listening to what times or occasions the whistling intensifies during matches at the World Cup gives a good indication as to the motivation behind it. It appears to occur most often when players of the opposition side have the ball.
For that reason, it’s largely seen as a tactic to express displeasure and try to put off Morocco’s opponents, as well as to create a hostile atmosphere that disrupts proper communication on the pitch between the opposition players and staff.
Whistling is something employed by fans in other parts of the world, too — such as in Latin America or in Spain.
As well as an attempt to create an intimidating atmosphere, it can also be used to convey a dislike towards a specific player or coach, or displeasure at a refereeing decision that is deemed incorrect or going against your team.
The use of whistling in this manner is not common in North America or in the UK, as an example, where booing is more commonly used to express anger at certain players or decisions made by officials.
An exception is towards the end of a close match, where a home team is winning. Then, fans will often start whistling in an attempt to encourage the referee to blow their whistle and end the game.
Morocco’s record at World Cup 2022
Backed by their raucous support, Morocco have had their best World Cup campaign to date, becoming the first team ever from Africa to make it beyond the quarterfinals.
They have been rock-solid at the back, conceding just one unlucky own goal in the groups, and have also had attacking players Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri shine in crucial moments.
They faced Spain in the Round of 16 who started strongly, but ended their group campaign with a loss to Japan.
The Atlas Lions, backed by their supporters in the stadium, achieved their finest hour at the World Cup, as they beat Spain in a dramatic penalty shootout to claim a place in the quarterfinals against Portugal.
The fairytale run continued with a stunning 1-0 win over the Portuguese in the quarterfinal to set up a meeting with France in the last four.
Their fans have certainly been up there with the best all tournament, with the rendition of the Moroccan national anthem before the Belgium game at the Al Thumama Stadium being praised around the world.
How far is Qatar from Morocco?
Morocco is 3,529 miles from Qatar, and whilst it is not the closest nation competing at the tournament, it is far closer than many European, Asian and countries from the Americas.
This explains why there is such huge numbers of support for the team at the stadiums, and we are seeing similar phenomenon with other nearby nations, including Saudi Arabia and Iran — who were backed by massive numbers of fans who made the short journey Qatar.
Whilst both these sides garnered great support at the tournament, it didn’t translate to success on the pitch such as that Morocco have experienced so far, as both Iran and Saudi Arabia were eliminated in the group stages.
Largest groups of supporters in Qatar for World Cup
Perhaps surprisingly, Morocco do not have the biggest following of fans at the tournament, according to the official ticket sales.
Forbes stated that the top 10 countries in terms of where tickets for the tournament were purchased are Qatar, the United States, Saudi Arabia, England, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, France, Brazil and Germany.
As a bonus for neutral viewers, Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia were all involved in the same group, meaning that we were treated to raucous and fantastic atmospheres at all of those games.
The number of Argentinian fans is high due to their fanatical love of football, as well as it being the last World Cup for legendary talisman Lionel Messi.
Brazil, as one of the favorites to win the tournament, were also supported by thousands of fans who made the trek to the Middle East, in the (unsuccessful) hope that their team could break a 20-year drought and win a record-extending sixth world crown.