CAF Investigates Renaissance Berkane's Withdrawal from Confederation Cup Semi-Final

The CAF Confederation Cup semi-final between Renaissance Berkane and USM Alger was cancelled due to a dispute over Berkane's team shirts featuring a map of Morocco, highlighting the ongoing political tensions between the two North African rivals.

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Salman Khan
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CAF Investigates Renaissance Berkane's Withdrawal from Confederation Cup Semi-Final

CAF Investigates Renaissance Berkane's Withdrawal from Confederation Cup Semi-Final

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has launched an investigation into the withdrawal of Renaissance Berkane from the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final match against USM Alger at the July 5 Stadium in Algiers. The match, which was scheduled to take place on April 22, 2024, was cancelled just moments before kickoff due to a dispute over Berkane's team shirts.

According to reports, Algerian customs officers had confiscated Berkane's shirts upon the team's arrival in Algeria on Friday, citing the presence of a map of Morocco that included the disputed Western Sahara region. Despite CAF ruling in favor of Berkane and ordering the match to proceed, the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) refused to abide by the decision and threatened to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Renaissance Berkane's president, Hakim Benabdallah, stood firm on the team's position, stating, "We will not play this match without our shirts featuring the complete map of Morocco. It is a matter of principle and we will not compromise on this issue."

The match was ultimately not played, with the Moroccan team refusing to take the field without their disputed shirts. Both teams had traveled to the stadium, but Berkane remained in their dressing room while USM Alger came out for the kick-off.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the ongoing political tensions between Morocco and Algeria, particularly regarding the Western Sahara dispute. The cancellation of the high-stakes semi-final match emphasizes how political issues can spill over into the realm of sports, affecting competitions and fan experiences.

CAF issued a statement regarding the suspension of the match, apologizing for any inconvenience caused and confirming that the matter will be presented to the competent authorities for further investigation. The CAF Competitions Committee had earlier rejected an appeal by the Algerian Football Federation regarding the use of the Moroccan team's shirts.

This is not the first time the two North African rivals have been involved in a dispute that led to the cancellation of a football fixture. A similar political spat caused Morocco to withdraw from the African Nations Championship hosted in Algeria last year. As the investigation unfolds, the football community awaits the outcome and any potential consequences for the teams and federations involved.

Key Takeaways

  • CAF investigating withdrawal of Berkane from Confederation Cup semi-final vs USM Alger.
  • Dispute over Berkane's team shirts featuring map of Morocco including Western Sahara.
  • Algerian customs confiscated Berkane's shirts, FAF refused to abide by CAF's decision.
  • Match canceled as Berkane refused to play without disputed shirts, highlighting political tensions.
  • This is not the first time Morocco-Algeria dispute led to cancellation of a football fixture.