The bad relations between the two countries lead to the renunciation of the reigning champions of the “African Championship for Nations” reserved for players who play in the championships of the continent. Moroccans denied permission to fly non-stop from Rabat to Constantine with a Royal Air Maroc aircraft
Try as they might, politics and sport in the end can’t stand each other on their own side. Infiltrations are daily: the World Cup in Qatar is the latest, most striking example. Indeed, the penultimate, because now another case has exploded. Morocco will not take part in Chan 2023, which kicks off today in Algeria. This is the African championship for nations reserved for players who play in the championship of their country. If you want, let’s call it an Africa Cup B, obviously without all the big names in the Premier League, Liga, Serie A and so on.
Relations between Morocco and Algeria, the two largest nations of the Maghreb, are at a minimum. A rivalry that has lasted for decades but which degenerated when, in December 2020, then US President Donald Trump decided to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed territory, in exchange for normalizing Morocco’s relations with Israel. As a response, in August 2021 Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Rabat, also cutting gas supplies to Spain which passed through Moroccan territory. The world fearfully observes the escalation because if it were to come to a military confrontation, there would be a destabilization of the entire region already grappling with the Libyan problem and the recent tensions in Tunisia, where the president, Kais Saied has dissolved Parliament, which had been frozen since July, plunging the nation into political turmoil and stoking fears of an end to democracy born of the 2011 Arab Spring.
In this context, Algeria is preparing to host the second continental football event. In December Morocco had requested and initially obtained – at least in principle – the authorization to be able to carry out a Royal Air Maroc charter flight with the national on board which would have departed from Rabat and landed directly in Algerian territory, in Constantine, an exception to the closure of Algerian airspace to flights from Morocco and of the domestic airline. But once we got to the point, the authorization from the Algiers government never came. Yesterday, therefore, the press release from the Moroccan Football Federation announcing the renunciation of the event.
In the morning, however, there seemed to have cleared up: the national team’s plane was on the runway ready to take off, with the players in the waiting room waiting for the go-ahead. Which never came. “A shame that they don’t allow us to defend our title,” commented the president of the Moroccan Football Federation, Fouzi Lekjaa. The Lions of the Atlas are in fact reigning champions, having won the last edition (the sixth) held in Cameroon and had been included in group C with Sudan, Madagascar and Ghana.
Patrice Motsepe, president of the African Football Federation, had spent his time trying to facilitate a solution to the problem: “I am saddened, I want Morocco to come to Algeria, that these young people can represent the Moroccan people – he declared during the ceremony for the World Cup draw for club, held in Morocco this morning – Unfortunately Algeria is a real embargo. I asked them to let them come, but they answered me that it is a matter of territorial sovereignty”, adding that “the Minister of foreign affairs, Ramtane Lamamra and the head of state Abdelmadjid Tebboune want Morocco to participate in the demonstration”. However, the facts proved them wrong. Barring further last-minute twists. In fact, the Moroccans should have made their debut on Sunday at 5pm against Sudan. Never say never…
January 13, 2023 (change January 13, 2023 | 18:46)
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