Algerian Football Federation Appeals to CAS over Disputed Jersey in CAF Cup

Algerian Football Federation and USM Alger appeal to CAS over Moroccan club RS Berkane's jersey featuring a map of Western Sahara. The controversy led to the cancellation of a CAF Confederation Cup semi-final match and RS Berkane's advancement to the final.

Salman Khan
New Update
Algerian Football FederationAppealsto CAS over Disputed Jersey in CAF Cup

Algerian Football FederationAppealsto CAS over Disputed Jersey in CAF Cup

The Algerian Football Federation (FAF) and club side USM Alger have lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a contentious jersey worn by Moroccan club RS Berkane in the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final. The shirt featured a map of Morocco that included the disputed territory of Western Sahara, a region at the center of a long-standing conflict between Algeria and Morocco.

The controversy began when RS Berkane insisted on wearing the shirt, seen as a political provocation in Algeria, during both legs of the semi-final against USM Alger. Algerian customs officials confiscated the kit at Algiers airport, leading to a standoff between the teams. USM Alger supplied replacement shirts without the map, but RS Berkane refused to wear them or take to the field.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the ongoing tensions between Algeria and Morocco, which have significant implications for regional stability and diplomatic relations. The outcome of the appeal could also set a precedent for how football governing bodies handle political expressions and territorial disputes in the sport.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) deemed USM Alger in breach of rules for the first leg match cancellation and awarded RS Berkane a 3-0 victory, with the possibility of additional sanctions. The return game in Morocco was also called off, resulting in RS Berkane advancing to the CAF Confederation Cup final against Egypt's Zamalek, scheduled for May 12 and 19.

In their appeal to CAS, FAF and USM Alger argue that the Berkane shirt "contravenes the laws of the game, Confederation of African Football (CAF) regulations and FIFA rules". The article cites the International Football Association Board (IFAB) equipment regulations, which prohibit political statements or images, including the shape of a country or territory, on football kits.

CAS has appointed an arbitral panel to hear the case, with written submissions being exchanged by all parties, including CAF, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF), and RS Berkane. However, no timescale has been given for when the hearing will take place. If the appeal is successful, it could potentially overturn the 3-0 win awarded to Berkane and allow USM Alger to progress to the final.

The dispute is set against the backdrop of the Western Sahara conflict, a territory annexed by Morocco in 1975 but claimed by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. The region has been a point of contention between the two North African nations for decades. Algeria severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021, and the border between the countries has been closed since 1994.

RS Berkane president Hakim Benabdellah defended the club's stance, stating, "We will not propose other options nor will we succumb to blackmail because our land is not negotiable." The incident marks another chapter in the long-standing tensions between Algeria and Morocco, with football once again becoming entangled in the complex geopolitical dispute.

The football world awaits the CAS ruling, and this controversy highlights the enduring Western Sahara conflict and its far-reaching implications. Thestorycould have significant consequences not only for the CAF Confederation Cup final but also for the delicate diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco. With the eyes of the international community upon them, both nations will be closely monitoring the developments in this high-stakes legal battle on and off the pitch.

Key Takeaways

  • Algerian Football Federation and USM Alger appeal to CAS over RS Berkane's jersey featuring Western Sahara map.
  • CAF awarded RS Berkane 3-0 win and possible sanctions due to USM Alger's refusal to play.
  • Appeal argues Berkane shirt contravenes FIFA rules, CAF regulations, and IFAB equipment regulations.
  • CAS to hear case, with potential to overturn RS Berkane's win and allow USM Alger to progress.
  • Dispute highlights ongoing Algeria-Morocco tensions over Western Sahara, with implications for regional stability.