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Africa U-17 Nations Cup in Algeria under threat as Morocco appeal CAF’s inaction against Algeria’s hostility

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More troubles brew in CAF as the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) is set to appeal the CAF decision on the Algeria’s prevention of Morocco from defending their African Nations Championship title  in Algeria last month.

Last Saturday, CAF’s Disciplinary Committee absolved Morocco of any blame for their inability to feature in the tournament that is designed for home-based players and dismised Algeria’s claim for damages, but was silent on possible sanction on Algeria.

A retaliatory action is now being feared as Morocco could boycott the U17 Africa Cup of Nations which Algeria will host next month.

According to Morocco World News, the kingdom has  announced its decision to appeal the inaction from CAF against Algeria’s hostile acts during the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

President of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, announced the news, stressing Morocco’s dissatisfaction with CAF’s decision.

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CAF in its statement at the weekend stressed that the provisions of “strict liability” could not have been “foreseen and should not apply arising out of the statement made by Zwelivelile Mandela, a grandson of the legendry Nelson Mandela during the opening ceremony of CHAN.”

CAF merely sent a “formal reminder” to theAlgerian Football Federation to be “aware of the provisions of vicarious liability and strict liability that may be applied in the future as a result of any political statements.”

Earlier this year, Algeria deprived Morocco’s team of participating in CHAN by refusing to allow the Atlas Lions to fly directly from Rabat to Constantine.

Algeria’s regime also invited Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, who delivered an anti-Moroccan speech that challenged Morocco’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over Western Sahara. At the opening ceremony, Algerian fans were seen chanting anti-Morocco slogans.

In response to CAF’s low-key action against Algeria, Lekjaa stressed that CAF mentioned that Morocco is not responsible for not taking part in the competition. However the official body failed to state who would be held responsible for the team’s non-participation.

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“We are not satisfied with CAF’s decision and we will appeal,” Lekjaa said, describing the anti-Morocco rhetoric as “unreasonable.”

“It is unreasonable that our team is prevented from defending its title and Moroccan fans are insulted with obscene remarks and racist remarks during the opening ceremony and in the presence of senior CAF officials,” he said.

He also condemned hostile remarks made against Morocco, stressing that Zwelivile’s speech “carries hatred and targets us.”

CAF’s Saturday statement acknowledged that the Atlas Lions were deprived of their rights to participate in the competition.

The confederation’s  Disciplinary Committee concluded that FRMF was unable to travel and participate in the CHAN “due to circumstances totally beyond their control, and as such no sanction of whatsoever nature is imposed on the Royal Moroccan Federation.” 

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The board also dismissed the Algerian Football Federation’s claim for damages.

Lekjaa stressed that Morocco’s U17 team is also ready to boycott the next African Cup of Nations (AFCON)) which will take place in April in Algeria, if the Atlas Lions are not allowed to fly directly to the host country. 

“The U17 national team will not participate in the next AFCON if we do not take a direct flight as indicated by CAF regulations,” he concluded.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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