Fez’s Fatal Tigers vs. Casa (and the check-out line of shame)

We literally waited 10 minutes until a stretcher was retrieved
We literally waited 10 minutes until a stretcher was retrieved
A noon game isn’t easy on the liver, or so I’ve been told. A coterie (Yes, I’m studying for the GREs) of my pick-up soccer associates invited me along to procure “energizing” refreshments at Marjane – the Costco of Morocco. While it’s not unusual to see separate sections for beer and wine, it was quite a spectacle to watch people purchase spirits incognito. Shoppers lined-up discretely at the special, out-of-sight register and then proceeded to slip out the side-exit with their intoxicants. “That’s the ha-shoooooooma checkout,” Ibrahimovic pointed out to me, stressing the word “shameful” in Moroccan colloquial Arabic. (Yes, we also refer to each other by our pick-up nicknames, usually selected based on which pro player we resemble most. Mustapha has Ibrahimovic’s hair, and I’m known as Maradona, because I’m 5’6” and arguably good-looking). After much debate, we opted to buy a new ball for hard-surface play, salt n’ vinegar chips, and one too many kilos of pistachios. No shame for us.
 
With tickets sold out, and half the city calling in sick, sidewalk cafés were packed with throngs of Fez fans in black and yellow, while Casablanca diehards sported their white and red. On taking our seats about 20 rows back at midfield, we noticed half the stadium was cordoned off. So much for sold out.

 
The Fatal Tigers and their beloved (briefly upside down) coach
The Fatal Tigers and their beloved (briefly upside down) coach
Fez outhustled Casa for most of the first half, with neither team really retaining possession for more than 2 or 3 touches. What was notable, however, was the bevy (again, GREs) of injured players carried off the field in stretchers: six in total. Six! Four more limped off in the second half, presumable because there were no stretchers left on the sidelines. I soon realized that the physicality of the game played below us merely set the stage for the main event, fan throw downs.
 
Casa, The Classier Crowd
Casa, The Classier Crowd
At first, I thought my section was kicking off “the wave”. Wrong. 5 aisles over a scuffle broke out, bringing everyone to their feet in hopes of catching a glimpse. Finally, Fez scored, briefly recapturing the crowd’s attention. Their fans lobbed smoke bombs and rolls of toilet paper onto the field while simultaneously unfurling a 100-foot long banner of their coach chatting on his cell phone. He was very pixilated and also very upside down. Casa responded with a goal on a corner kick. Their elated followers made the Fatal Tiger’s celebration look like a bush league pep rally. Not only did they have a stenciled picture of their coach on their banner, but they also unraveled the first verse of their anthem above his ginormous, right side up face. Fez scored again, this time sending a representative to the Casa side with a flag. He was received warmly with water bottles and rocks.
 
In the last minutes of the game, Casablanca tied it up, and then took the lead. Empowered with a few choice phrases in the colloquial, I spent the rest of the week commiserating with Fassi cabbies. Soccer really does bring people together, and Casa can lick a camel’s…

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