Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF) has urged players from the U23 national team to re-join their respective clubs as it waits for Algeria to respond to its request for the Moroccan team to go immediately to Constantine, Algeria, to play in the 2023 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Some of the competing teams, like the Senegalese team, have already arrived in Algeria in preparation for the tournament’s start on Thursday.
The FRMF requested that football players from the U23 leave the training camp at the Mohammed VI Football Complex and join their clubs in the absence of a direct, official answer from Algeria.
According to a source from the federation, “the federation has agreed to let players to join their respective clubs so that they do not stay hostages in an unclear scenario.”
The source went on to say that the players have been instructed by the federation to stay approachable in case Algerian authorities decide to respond at the last minute.
An “authorized source” who confirmed that the FRMF has permitted the players to return to their respective teams was also cited by the Moroccan television station SNRTNews.
In December 2022, Fouzi Lekjaa, president of the FRMF, declared that Morocco would withdraw from the continental competition if Algeria forbade the delegation to travel straight by Royal Air Maroc from Rabat to Constantine.
Lekjaa reported that Morocco had made its proposal to the Confederation of African Football and the Algerian government (CAF).
Rachid Oukali, the chairman of the CHAN organizing committee, responded by disavowing Algeria’s accountability in the matter and asserting that the host country is not obligated to guarantee a direct flight path for the competing teams.
Lekjaa highlighted that Algeria, as the host nation, “should be accountable” for putting in place all steps to make it easier for teams to compete in the continental event in response to Oukali’s assertions.
Abderrazak Sebgag, Algeria’s minister of sports, said last week that his country would respond to Morocco’s request through “formal procedures,” but Algiers would likely reject it.
“The FAF will reply to the CAF through authorized methods. Algeria has its own laws and sovereignty, which is the most important factor, he stated.
The hostilities between Algeria and Morocco have previously been both overt and covert. While the two nations’ land borders have remained closed since 1994, tensions increased in August 2021 when Algeria barred Moroccan aircraft from using its airspace.
According to exprets, due to Algeria’s continued perception of Morocco as a “existential threat” to Algerian interests, the historical rivalry between the two countries has reached new lows in the past two years.
The Algerian government severed connections with Morocco in the summer of 2021 amid unsubstantiated claims of Moroccan meddling in Algerian affairs, in addition to funding and supporting the Polisario Front, a separatist group seeking independence in southern Morocco.