Football kit makers Adidas are at the centre of an argument between two African national teams after producing a new design for Algeria which Morocco officials say is tantamount to cultural appropriation.
The new jersey features blue, yellow and teal patterned geometric shapes which the sports equipment company say is a tribute to one of the famous landmarks in the nation, the Mechouar Palace.
“Algeria culture wear collection, inspired by the architectural design of the iconic El Mechouar palace in Tlemcen,” explained a social media post by Adidas announcing the design.
However, it is argued that the design is akin to zellige, a Moroccan mosaic style, with a representative from that nation’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Communications responding with a demand to change the kit.
BBC report that Adidas have been given two weeks to make the requested alterations.
Lawyer Mourad Elajouti wrote on social media that he had “issued” a legal warning to Adidas HQ in Germany, implying their design was “a cultural acquisition and an attempt to steal [an aspect of] traditional Moroccan cultural heritage and use it outside its context.”
Furthermore, the lawyer added, such disregard of where the style originated from “contributes to the loss and distortion of the identity and history of these cultural elements.”
The two nations have previously had political tensions between them spanning several decades, including the Sand War of 1963, a border conflict which lasted several months. On the pitch, the last time they met was in December 2021 - a penalty shootout win for Algeria following a 2-2 draw at the Arab Cup, which they went on to win.
Having not qualified for the forthcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup, Algeria’s next scheduled match is not until the March international break, when they will face Niger in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Morocco, on the other hand, are preparing for the finals in November and will face Croatia, Belgium and Canada in Group F.