Morocco vetos Algeria soccer match over Sahara


The goodwill from Algerians who supported Morocco in the latter stages of the knockout tournament has not reached the elite in Algiers, it would seem.

Morocco will not take part in a soccer tournament being held in Algeria after the Algerian government rejected its request for the team to fly there directly on Morocco’s national airline, the Moroccan football federation said on January 12th.

Algeria closed its airspace to Moroccan aircraft in 2021 after it unilaterally severed diplomatic ties with its North African neighbour.

Morocco are the title holders of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) for players under 23 who still play in African countries. The tournament starts on January 13th and finishes on February 4.

Soccer authorities in Rabat had written to the Confederation of African Football to say Morocco would only take part if its team could take a direct flight to Algeria with Royal Air Maroc.

Morocco’s senior national team (including expatriate players)  last month became the first from an African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals, raising the global profile of Moroccan soccer.

Algeria has taken many unilateral decisions, including the severing of diplomatic ties, the closing of the border and the shutting of the transborder gas pipeline between the two counties, meant to penalise Morocco over its uncompromising position which considers the Western Sahara part of its sovereign territory.

Algeria, on the other hand, backs the Polisario front, an armed group which challenges Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory.



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