According to Moroccan English newspaper, Morocco World News, Algeria used the opening ceremony of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) as a political platform to smear Morocco and challenge its territorial integrity.
It reported that the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has released a statement denouncing Algeria’s smearing of Morocco during the opening ceremony of CHAN.
In the opening ceremony of the continental tournament, the Algerian regime invited Nelson Mandela’s Grandson Zwelivelile Mandela, who delivered an anti-Morocco political speech attacking the country’s territorial integrity.
In addition to the politicization of the CHAN’s launching ceremony, Algerian fans in the stadium were filmed chanting offensive slogans comparing Moroccans to animals.
Morocco is not taking part in the tournament as the Algerian regime rejected the country’s request for its team to fly directly to Constantine, the Algerian city where its games were scheduled to be played.
Morocco’s Football Federation described the behavior of Algerian fans and the opening ceremony as “vile practices,” “absurd maneuvers,” and a “flagrant violation of the laws governing football events.”
The federation also condemned the “racist” chants directed at the Moroccan fans, noting it is considering filing a complaint with the CAF.
CAF should assume full responsibility for the “blatant breaches” of the ethics of football, the Moroccan federation wrote, the FRMF said.
Algeria’s using the CHAN as a platform to smear Morocco has also sparked widespread outrage on social media, with many calling on the African Football Confederation (CAF) to step in and adequately punish the country’s offensive politicization of a continental sporting event.
In the wake of the much-decried opening ceremony, the Arabic hashtag “Nelson Mandela’s grandson is a disgrace to Mendela” has been going viral in the MENA region. Many commenters have slammed Zwelivelile Mandela for staining his grandfather’s legacy by inciting hatred against Morocco instead of promoting peace and solidarity in Africa.
The Algerian regime has long contested Morocco’s territorial integrity, financing and arming the separatist Polisario Front in its “independence war” in southern Morocco.
Reports have documented Polisario’s embezzling of the humanitarian aid meant for refugees living in dismal conditions in the Tindouf camps in Algeria. In addition, many observers have over the years described the separatist group as a threat to regional stability.
The attack on Morocco’s territorial integrity and Moroccan fans comes at a time when the country is making significant diplomatic gains in promoting its territorial integrity to Algeria’s dismay.
Morocco’s Autonomy Plan for the Western Sahara dispute is garnering international acclaim as many countries embrace the plan as the best and most pragmatic route to a lasting settlement of the territorial dispute.