Algerian Football Federation Refuses to Hold Match Amid Controversy Over Moroccan Club's Jersey

Tensions between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara spill into football, as Algerian authorities seize Moroccan club's jerseys, leading to a standoff and postponement of a CAF Confederation Cup semi-final match.

Salman Khan
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Algerian Football Federation Refuses to Hold Match Amid Controversy Over Moroccan Club's Jersey

Algerian Football Federation Refuses to Hold Match Amid Controversy Over Moroccan Club's Jersey

In a surprising development, Walid Sadi, president of the Algerian Football Federation, has revealed that the federation has prepared jerseys for the Moroccan club Berkane and refuses to hold the second leg match of the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final against USM Alger. The controversy stems from Berkane's insistence on wearing jerseys featuring a map that includes the disputed Western Sahara region.

The row began when the Berkane delegation arrived in Algeria and customs officers seized the team's shirts on the grounds that they carried a map of Morocco that included Western Sahara. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) initially ruled in favor of Berkane, but the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) appealed the decision and intended to take the case to the "international court of sport".

However, the CAF ultimately dismissed the FAF's appeal, and Sadi announced that the Moroccan team would be provided with "high-quality shirts" without the contentious map. Berkane refused to wear the new jerseys, stating that "there will be no match without shirts with the complete map of the Kingdom of Morocco".

The Algerian authorities intervened to enforce the removal of all jerseys bearing the map, despite attempts by the Berkane Club to explain their action. The FAF stressed the importance of adhering to host country regulations and preserving the integrity of the game, while Algerian football supporters demanded a united stance against the "mafia of CAF" and the politicization of the sport.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the ongoing tensions between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara region and how political disagreements can affect the world of sports. The controversy raises questions about the role of international sports organizations in navigating sensitive geopolitical issues and ensuring fair play.

FIFA has officially requested clarifications from CAF regarding the situation surrounding the Moroccan club's jersey selection and the CAF Appeals Commission's decision to reject Algeria's appeal. This intervention by FIFA emphasizes the seriousness of the situation and its potential impact on the integrity of international football. As the standoff continues, it remains to be seen how the matter will be resolved and whether the second leg match will proceed as planned.

Key Takeaways

  • Algerian FA seized Berkane's jerseys over Western Sahara map, sparking controversy.
  • CAF initially ruled in Berkane's favor, but Algeria appealed, leading to postponement.
  • Algerian authorities forced removal of jerseys, despite Berkane's objections.
  • Dispute highlights tensions between Algeria and Morocco over Western Sahara.
  • FIFA requested clarification from CAF on the situation, emphasizing seriousness.