Spain’s crumbling defeat to Morocco in the World Cup on Tuesday prompted the country’s extremist elements to crawl out and ‘defend Spain’ ahead of the match.
Hooligan groups associated with far-right political groups coordinated their actions via social media such to band together and hunt down Moroccan fans with the purpose of ‘defending the streets from vandalism.’
The Spanish ultra groups are notorious for their adoption of neo-Nazi ideology, their adulation of fascist dictator of Spain Francisco Franco, and their hostility to refugees and non-white immigrants.
Yet Morocco fans across Europe had given them plenty of ammunition by rioting and vandalising cities after their nation’s previous matches in this World Cup.
The usually fierce rivals of die-hard football fans from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Ultras Ser and Frente Madrid respectively, announced they would ‘join forces’ to protect the streets of Madrid from ‘acts of violence by Morocco fans’.
Real’s Ultras Ser are adoptees of Spain’s fascist Falange ideology, and are regularly seen with Swastika flags, and sometimes refer to themselves as ‘Skins’.
Meanwhile, the ultras of Real Betis, Supporters Sur, announced that they would assemble in the streets of Sevilla at the Heliopolis one hour before last Tuesday’s game.
Motivated by sometimes overzealous celebrations by Morocco fans that verged on provocative, these gangs of hooligans took to the streets of major Spanish cities around the match to look for trouble.
The Ultras Not Reds Telegram channel posted a number of group photos and videos of masked ultras celebrating their efforts to ‘defend the streets.’
One video showed a gang of youths marching through Madrid holding a Spain flag emblazoned with a fascist symbol, chanting ‘Spain is not Muslim’ after the match.
“Ultras and Nationalists of Valencia defended the city from Moroccan trouble makers yesterday, unfortunately there were too many police for any actions,” they wrote under another picture.
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The channel is littered with slogans such as ‘Refugees not welcome’, ‘Europe for the Europeans’ and ‘Message to Moroccans – death to Islam.’
There were reports of police clashes in Granada and fights breaking out in Huelva, while Morocco fans were reported to have rampaged through Bilbao and cars set on fire in the Catalan town of Reus.
However, both the Autonomous Police (Ertzaintza) and the Bilbao City Council denied to the Newtral.es news site that there had been any destruction on the night of December 6.
A number of other supposed instances of violence by Morocco fans was also apparently debunked as ‘fake news’ propagated by far-right factions trying to manufacture provocations to justify their vigilantism.
These included the allegation that the Aguas de Murcia building was lit up in the colours of the Moroccan flag after their victory over Spain – a charge that was amplified by both the PP and Vox.
However, it was later shown that the colours of red and green were just regular Christmas lights that have been used in previous years.
In the end, a heavy Spanish police presence that was beefed up in locations with a large Moroccan population – forewarned by the scenes recorded in Brussels after Morocco beat Belgium last week – precluded serious trouble between rival fans.
“Given the anticipation of celebrations that could lead to disturbances of public order, as has already happened in other countries, it is necessary to reserve UIPs-UPRs for that evening and have specific teams planned,” the Deputy Operations Directorate said in a statement to Policia Nacional offices.
There are some 900,000 Moroccans living in Spain, according to the National Institute of Statistics.