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Algeria Takes Morocco to Arbitration Court Over Jersey Row

The political dispute between Algeria and Morocco which affected their club’s CAF Confederation semi-final matches will now go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Algerian football authorities and USM Alger club are challenging the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) decision to allow Moroccan club RS Berkane to wear a jersey that features a map of Morocco which includes the disputed Western Sahara region.

The first semi-final leg on April 21 in Algiers did not go ahead after Berkane refused to wear replacement shirts provided by their hosts after the Moroccans’ kits were confiscated at the airport by Algerian authorities.

Interestingly, CAF ruled that the Algerian club violated the competition’s rules and subsequently awarded Berkane all three points as well as three goals in a walkover.

To add further drama to the twist, the defending champions USM Alger went to Berkane’s stadium for the second leg but refused to play if the hosts wore the controversial jerseys. CAF then awarded a second default win to Berkane.

Tellingly, football laws stipulate that “equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images”. However, the Moroccan side has adorned the jersey in the matches they’ve played all season.

The Moroccan club is scheduled to play the two-leg final on May 12 and 19 against Egyptian giants, Zamalek and it remains to be seen if the appeal will be decided before those matches.

Both countries have been at loggerheads over the disputed territory for almost 40 years, finally severing diplomatic ties in 2021.

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