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On December 6, 2022, at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Morocco's team defeated Spain's with a 3-0 penalty win, advancing for the first time to the World Cup quarterfinals.
In a brief Telegram post, 'Abd Al-Rahim 'Atoun aka Abu 'Abdallah Al-Shami, the chief religious official of Syrian jihadi group Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), celebrated the Muslim country's win over a Christian country which formerly controlled parts of it. The post downplays watching professional sports but encourages athletics as a means of preparation for jihad.
Following is a translation of 'Atoun's post:
"It is true that it is [only] soccer. It has no great value in political and international balances, and countries are not measured by their preeminence in ball [playing]. But when Morocco wins against Spain, which once colonized it, we feel joy, especially since those countries (like Spain) view their preeminence in ball [playing] as an example of their cultural supremacy. I am not a fan of following soccer, and I did not follow (watch) the Morocco-Spain match, by the way. But I love practicing the sport of soccer, and I hope that the youths will be people who practice – not who follow – sports, diligence, and work.
"Our true sport is what [serves as] preparation and training for confronting our enemy, waging jihad on him, and repelling his invasion. It is any sport whose practitioner intends to piously obey Allah and to prepare his body and physique for the sake of Allah."
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