The Moroccan Ministry of Culture accused Adidas of appropriating Moroccan culture in its new uniforms for the Algerian football team.
Adidas on the other hand, claims the design was inspired by the Mechouar Palace in Algeria.
However, the blue, teal and yellow geometric design is a pattern called zellige, common in Moroccan mosaics, the ministry’s lawyer said.
Neighboring states have a long history of tensions as they continue to vie for Western Sahara.
Lawyer Mourad El Gouti wrote on Facebook that he had issued a legal warning to Adidas on behalf of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture.
In a letter to the company’s CEO Casper Rorsted, Lagoti said the new design was cultural appropriation and “an attempt to steal a form of Moroccan heritage and take it out of context”.
He urged the German sportswear brand to remove the design within two weeks. Elajouti added that Algeria’s kit for the 2022-2023 season “contributes to the loss and distortion of the identity and history of these cultural elements [zelligen]”.
Algeria and Morocco share a border of nearly 2,000 km that has been a source of tension since independence from French colonial rule.
In 1963, they fought a sand war over Morocco’s territorial claim to Algeria.
Algeria later supported the Polisario Front’s campaign for Western Sahara independence from Morocco, leading to the 1975-1991 Western Sahara War.
The border was closed for security reasons in 1994 after Islamist militants bombed a hotel in the historic Moroccan city of Marrakech.
More recently, in 2021, Algeria broke diplomatic relations with its neighbor, accusing Morocco of “hostile acts”. Morocco called the measure “completely unjustified”.