Sunday, June 23, 2024

Moroccan Soccer Team Awarded Default Win After Kits Confiscated by Algerian Customs – SportsLogos.Net News

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A soccer club from Morocco was awarded a win under bizarre circumstances this week after their kits were confiscated by customs officials in Algeria.

Renaissance Sportive Berkane, based in the northwest Moroccan city of Berkane, was scheduled to visit Algerian side USM Alger in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup semifinal tie on Sunday, April 21. But the Moroccan side refused to take the field after Algerian customs officials held the team up for hours at the airport in Algiers and ultimately confiscated their kits.

However, on Wednesday, the Confederation of African Football sided with RS Berkane, awarding them a 3-0 default victory. The CAF also indicated that further sanctions would be handed down against USM Alger — the defending Confederation Cup champions — because of the incident.

At issue is a map of Morocco on the chest of RS Berkane’s kits. The map includes the Western Sahara territory, which has been at the center of a dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic since Spain relinquished control of the region in 1975.

A graphic posted to RS Berkane’s Facebook page promoting the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup semifinal tie against USM Alger. (Courtesy RS Berkane / Facebook)
A graphic posted to RS Berkane’s Facebook page on Monday, April 22, with the caption: “Thanks to the Moroccan people from the precious Tangier to the dear Quaira for their solidarity with the team” (translated from Arabic to English by Facebook). (Courtesy RS Berkane / Facebook)

RS Berkane had worn the kits with the map throughout the current Confederation Cup campaign, but “Algerian commentators termed it provocative and said it flew in the face of rules banning displays of a political nature on football kit,” Al Jazeera reports.

This is not the first time political tensions between the two nations have spilled over onto the soccer pitch. In January 2023, a team of Moroccan under-23 players withdrew from the CAF African Nations Championship being held in Algeria after the Algerian government refused to let the team fly directly there on Morocco’s national airline, Royal Air Maroc. Algeria closed its border with Morocco and banned Moroccan aircraft from entering its airspace in August 2021 because of the dispute.

The CAF has said it expects the second leg of the Confederation Cup semifinal tie to go ahead at the Berkane Municipal Stadium on Sunday, April 28.

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