Football: Morocco renounces to participate in the African Nations Championship in Algeria, for lack of flight authorization

Will go, will not go? The questioning of Morocco’s participation in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria ended Friday, January 13, with the Moroccan decision to give up the competition, for lack of having received the authorization of the Algerian authorities to fly there.

While the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday evening that the national under-23 team (U23) would participate in the competition in Constantine (north-eastern Algeria), the Moroccan selection left at the start of the season. afternoon at Rabat-Salé airport where she was waiting for authorization from Algiers to take off, on board a Royal Air Maroc plane that remained on the tarmac. The players and the team’s management boarded a coach after having waited in the airport’s VIP lounge since the start of the morning.

Since the rupture of diplomatic relations with Rabat, Algiers closed, on September 22, 2021, its airspace to all Moroccan civil and military aircraft.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers The severance of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco, a new stage in a long escalation

“It is very unfortunate to deprive the Moroccan national team, which had been preparing seriously for six months to participate in CHAN and defend its title”lamented the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa. “It is unfortunate that the team stays for hours at the airport waiting for permission to take part in an African competition”he added while receiving the president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), Gianni Infantino, and the president of the African Confederation (CAF), Patrice Motsepe.

CAF intervention

The president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, Fouzi Lekjaa, greets the presidents of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, and the Confederation of African Football, Patrice Motsepe, at Rabat-Salé airport on January 13, 2023.

While the Moroccan team waited, MM. Infantino and Motsepe arrived at the same time from Algiers to attend the draw for the Club World Cup, which is to take place in Morocco from 1er to February 11. At the microphone of the journalists present on the spot, Mr. Motsepe said to himself “saddened” of the situation, stating that he had passed ” the last days “ to do ” everything [son] possible “ to solve it. “I want these young boys to represent the Moroccan population, but also to represent Africans”he declared, adding that the Algerian government had made “a matter of sovereignty”.

For several days now, rumors concerning Morocco’s participation in the competition, against the backdrop of a diplomatic war with its Algerian neighbor, have kept African supporters in suspense. Thursday morning, the FRMF announced the cancellation of its team’s participation in CHAN because “the final authorization [du] Royal Air Maroc flight, official carrier of the Moroccan football teams, from Rabat to Constantine, did not[vait] not confirmed” by Algeria. In the evening, the FRMF said “always wait for flight clearance”.

Thursday evening, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had finally announced that the Moroccan selection would take part in the competition. The FRMF had seized the CAF to obtain authorization to travel from the Algerian authorities. The CAF had informed the FRMF on December 22 that“an authorization in principle had been obtained”, according to the press release. It was not possible to obtain confirmation from the Algerian authorities.

Double title holders

In a climate of permanent tension, Morocco and Algeria are at odds over the thorny issue of Western Sahara and over the rapprochement, particularly security, in recent months between Morocco and Israel.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Algeria in search of a response to the Morocco-Israel military axis

Algiers supports the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, to the chagrin of Rabat, and ardently defends the Palestinian cause. Morocco and Israel normalized their diplomatic relations after the recognition, in December 2020 by US President Donald Trump, of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. This unresolved conflict has opposed Morocco to the Polisario for nearly fifty years.


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The CHAN, reserved for players competing in the national championships, is held from January 13 to February 4 in Algeria. The young hopefuls of the Atlas Lions have won the last two editions (2018 and 2021). 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 competition.

Read also: 2022 World Cup: the unexpected support of the Algerians for the Moroccan team

The World with AFP

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