Morocco-Algeria political rift sees both lose African Men's Handball Championships hosting rights
The African Handball Confederation (CAHB) has withdrawn Morocco and Algeria's rights to host the 2022 and 2024 Men's African Handball Championships over an ongoing political rift between the two countries, reported The New Arab's Arabic edition, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
The decision comes after the championship was postponed twice. The 2022 men’s tournament was scheduled to take place in the North African kingdom from 13 to 23 January this year.
Then in July, the cities of Guelmim and Laayoune, which are located in the disputed Western Sahara territory of Morocco - and where Algeria has supported armed separatists - were also due to host games.
The Algerian Handball Federation allegedly appealed the decision due to the tournament's location in the region, reported the Francophone Moroccan daily Telquel.
A new host nation and competition period for this year’s competition are yet to be determined. The championship serves as a qualifying tournament for the 2023 World Men's Handball Championship in Poland and Sweden.
Officials said that the decision comes after the "extra-sporting differences that have deeply tainted relations between the Royal Moroccan Handball Federation (FRMHB) and the Algerian Handball Federation (FAHB)", according to Telquel.
"It follows that despite the efforts made to avoid the boycott by certain participating nations, the Council notes with deep regret that differences still persist and are likely to jeopardise the smooth running of these events," they added.
Morocco and Algeria's relations have deteriorated severely in recent years, particularly since Morocco controversially established diplomatic ties with Israel in December 2020, while also gaining US recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara territory.
Algeria severed diplomatic ties with its neighbour in August last year, and has most recently accused Morocco of inaccurately depicting Western Sahara as part f its territory on a map reportedly adopted by the Arab League.