Moroccan national football team (file photo)
‘Moroccan military and commercial aircraft had been barred from Algerian airspace since the two neighbours severed diplomatic ties last year’
There are indications that Morocco’s national football team may boycott the African Nations Championship next month because of a diplomatic dispute with tournament host – Algeria.
After a sensational World Cup performance, the Moroccan Football Federation said that its team would only compete if there was a direct flight from the Moroccan capital, Rabat, to the Algerian city of Constantine, where Morocco’s games are scheduled to be played.
AP reports that Moroccan military and commercial aircraft had been barred from Algerian airspace since the two neighbours severed diplomatic ties last year.
Their dispute is linked to multiple issues, including the contested Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco annexed in 1975 and that Algeria-backed Sahrawis have long sought independence for.
The Moroccan federation stated on Tuesday that it had written to the African Union about procedures for African sports events and “facilitating the conditions of the participating teams.”
In its letter to the AU, the Moroccan federation demanded that the national team be able to fly directly to Constantine on a private aircraft of Royal Air Maroc, the official carrier of Morocco’s national teams.
Algeria’s government has not responded publicly to the demand.
The African Nations Championship involves players for local clubs and runs Jan. 13 to Feb. 4.
Morocco is scheduled to play against Sudan, Madagascar, and Ghana in the group phase.
Morocco became the first African or Arab nation to reach the semifinals of the World Cup in this year’s tournament in Qatar.