In a statement, the Moroccan Federation condemned “malicious actions” and “despicable maneuvers” at the opening of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria.
Morocco on Saturday condemned “malicious actions” and “despicable maneuvers” at the opening of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Friday in Algeria, a new episode in the political crisis between Rabat and Algiers which is now being played out on the sports field.
In a press release, the Moroccan football federation (FRMF) castigated a “provocative and surreal speech which flouted the regulations governing the organization of football events under the aegis of the Confederation of African Football (CAF)”.
Anti-Moroccan “racist remarks”
The FRMF referred to a speech by Nelson Mandela’s grandson at the opening ceremony of CHAN in Algiers in which he called for “fighting to liberate Western Sahara from oppression”. “Let’s not forget the last colony in Africa, Western Sahara”, pleaded Mandla Mandela, supporter of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front.
For Morocco, the Western Sahara file, its national cause, is “the prism through which it considers its international environment”. This former Spanish colony, which Morocco and the Polisario Front have been fighting over for decades, is considered a “non-autonomous territory” by the UN.
The Cherifian kingdom controls 80% and advocates autonomy under its sole sovereignty, while the Polisario, supported by Algeria, is calling for a self-determination referendum. In front of the audience at the Nelson-Mandela Stadium in Algiers, the grandson of the anti-apartheid icon also urged to “liberate Palestine”, in an open criticism of Morocco which normalized its relations with Israel there. two years old.
Morocco decided on Friday not to send its U23 team to compete in CHAN
In its press release, the FRMF also denounced anti-Moroccan “racist remarks” made in the stadium during the opening ceremony. Videos circulating on social media show Algerian fans chanting racist slogans targeting Moroccans.
The Moroccan federation sent “a correspondence” to CAF asking it to “assume all responsibility for these flagrant transgressions which have no connection with the principles and values of football”. After a standoff, Morocco decided on Friday not to send its U23 team to play the CHAN in Algeria because they had not received authorization from the Algerian authorities to fly there.
Algiers closed its airspace on September 22, 2021 to all Moroccan civil and military aircraft after breaking diplomatic relations with Rabat. The CHAN, reserved for players competing in the national championships, is held from January 13 to February 4 in Algeria.
The “Atlas Lion Cubs” won the last two CHANs in 2021 and 2018. Their elders brilliantly distinguished themselves at the last World Cup by becoming the first African and Arab team to reach the semi-finals of the prestigious competition.