UPDATE (12/14): Royal Air Maroc has announced that it is cancelling all of its scheduled flights to Doha on Wednesday, citing a decision by the Qatari authorities. RAM said it will refund all tickets and apologize to affected customers. The Moroccan national airline did fly seven flights on Tuesday.
Morocco is not taking its responsibility as the first African nation ever to appear in the World Cup semifinals lightly — and it’s doing everything it can to make sure its biggest fans are in attendance for the festivities in Qatar.
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation — in conjunction with FIFA and the Qatari organizing committee — have been giving out tickets to Morocco’s highly anticipated match against France on Wednesday for free.
According to some sources, as many as 13,000 free tickets are being distributed. Hundreds of fans waited outside Al Janoub Stadium for hours for a chance to win.
“We bought the rest of unsold tickets in the stadium, and we distributed them to our fans,” said Moroccan federation president Fouzi Lekjaa. “They are here in Qatar, and they have only one desire — to see the national team.”
The Moroccan fan contingent has been one of the strongest at the World Cup — but that doesn’t mean the country isn’t trying to send more fans to Qatar.
Royal Air Maroc — the country’s national carrier — will operate 30 flights between Casablanca and Doha on Tuesday and Wednesday, offering a special rate ($475 roundtrip) for the occasion.
“After the success of the unprecedented arrangements made for the Morocco-Portugal match, we are now quadrupling these arrangements by operating nearly 30 flights with large-capacity aircraft in just 24 hours,” Royal Air Maroc president Abdelhamid Addou said in a statement.
Morocco will face off against France — the country it gained independence from in 1956 — on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.