Discord over Moroccan jersey leads to cancellation of football match

A football match scheduled for Sunday evening, April 21, between the Algerian team USM Alger and the Moroccan team RS Berkane was canceled at the last moment, we learned from official Algerian and Moroccan sources, due to a dispute concerning the jersey worn by Moroccans.

The dispute began Friday morning with the arrival in the Algerian capital of Moroccan players who came to play the semi-final first leg of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup. According to Algerian media, customs officers confiscated the jerseys of the RS Berkane team on the grounds that they contained a map of Morocco including Western Sahara.

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This vast territory, a former Spanish colony, is approximately 80% controlled by Morocco, but claimed by the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria. Algeria broke off diplomatic relations with its great regional rival in 2021, notably because of this issue.

CAF, requested by the Algerian Football Federation (FAF), stressed on Saturday that RS Berkane had been playing in its jersey flocked with the same card since the start of the tournament.

“No debate on this subject”

A few hours before the match, which was to start on Sunday at 7 p.m. (GMT), the body, whose headquarters is in Cairo, rejected an appeal from the FAF, according to a press release obtained by AFP, which specifies that “all other requests or requests are denied”. The president of the FAF, Walid Sadi, then announced the provision of the Moroccan team “high quality jerseys” without the map of Morocco.

But, shortly before the match, the sports director of USM Alger, Taoufik Korichi, announced on Algerian radio that the match was not going to be played, because of the Berkane club’s refusal to enter the stadium. the field with jerseys other than those which were seized in Algiers.

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“There will be no debate on this subject. No match without flocked jerseys with the complete map of the Kingdom of Morocco »also told CAF officials the president of the Moroccan club Hakim Benabdellah, quoted by the Moroccan media Hespress.

After the CAF decision in favor of the Moroccan team, the president of the FAF announced that he intended to bring the matter before the « tribunal international du sport ». “Our position is clear: we will not back down and we are ready for anything”he added.

The World with AFP

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2024-04-22 09:01:22
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