Center for International Programs

At this month's World Cup in Qatar, Morocco shocked the world. Four Moroccans experienced the unforgettable drama together from Siena. 

It was an upset when Morocco beat Spain and advanced to the quarterfinals of the world's most watched sporting event. It was historic, one round later, when the national soccer team known as the Atlas Lions defeated Portugal to qualify for the semifinals. Never before in a tournament that began in 1930 had an African team reached the final four. The feat left a quartet of Moroccans on Siena's campus revelling in national pride. 

"Seeing our great nation's men fight for an honorable title reminded me of how we as a nation fought for our freedom and prosperity. Viva Maroc."

Saiid El-Khattabi '26

Very few Moroccan students study abroad in the United States compared to other nations. For perspective, China sends more than 100,000 students to U.S. colleges and universities each year. Morocco, meanwhile (according to 2022 Open Doors data), has just 631 undergraduates stateside. It's remarkable that four are all at Siena together, and that made it all the sweeter as their national team went on a Cinderella run in Qatar. 

“The ability to watch games together makes me feel like I’m at home. We carry our pride wherever we go.”

Moulay Ahmed Aladlouni '23

Morocco's dream run ended in the semifinals, beaten by defending champion France 2-0 on December 14. The accomplishment, though, will reverberate through the North African country for years. And for four Saints, it's a memory that will last a lifetime.

"People carry the Moroccan flag and cheer for us every game and they want to go visit our country! The pride that I’m feeling right now cannot be described. DIMA MAGHRIB!!”

Ali Aladlouni '25