Morocco changes mind, decides to participate in football's CHAN after Algeria spat

Morocco changes mind, decides to participate in football's CHAN after Algeria spat
2 min read
The Moroccan foreign ministry said the country's national team 'will travel to Algeria tomorrow to participate' in football's African Nations Championship.
Football's African Nations Championship gets underway on Friday [Fazil Abd Erahim/Anadolu Agency/Getty]

Morocco on Thursday decided to take part in football's African Nations Championship (CHAN) despite earlier insisting they were cancelling their participation due to the closure of Algerian airspace to Moroccan planes, the foreign ministry said.

"The Moroccan national team will travel to Algeria tomorrow to participate in the CHAN," the ministry told AFP.

The competition gets underway on Friday.

Morocco's FRMF football federation said in a statement earlier on Thursday that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had informed it last month that Algeria had issued "an authorisation in principle" for the flight.

But just 24 hours before the start of the tournament, the FRMF said it "notes with regret that the definitive authorisation for the flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately not been confirmed".

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Algeria closed its airspace to all Moroccan flights in September 2021, the month after it cut off diplomatic ties with its rival, accusing it of "hostile acts".

That was the latest escalation in a long-running rivalry fuelled by the Western Sahara dispute and relations with Israel.

Morocco, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan controversially agreed to normalise ties with Israel in 2020. The move was roundly rejected by Palestinians, who view it as a betrayal of their national cause.

The Moroccan football side, which made history last month in Qatar by becoming the first African or Arab team ever to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, have won the past two African Nations Championships.