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Cas to hear Algerian appeal in Morocco map row

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The building that houses the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is based in Lausanne, Switzerland [Getty Images]

The dispute over an enlarged map of Morocco on a football shirt has intensified after the Algerian Football Federation (Faf) and the USM Alger club filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Both matches of the Caf Confederation Cup semi-final between USM Alger and RS Berkane were suspended because the latter club insisted on wearing a shirt with a map of Morocco on it. the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The map is seen as a political provocation in Algeria.

The Faf and USM Alger asked Cas to rule that Berkane’s jersey “contravenes the rules of the game, the regulations of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and the rules of FIFA.”

The world governing body’s equipment regulations state that any item of equipment that includes political statements or images cannot be worn.

Cas said an arbitration panel is being appointed, but did not give any timeline for when the case would be heard.

The Switzerland-based organization added that written communications are being exchanged from all parties, including Caf, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF) and RS Berkane.

“Once constituted, the arbitration panel will issue instructions for the next phase of the procedure, including holding a hearing,” says a statement on the Cas website.

Berkane advanced to the final of the Confederations Cup after achieving two 3-0 victories against Caf, the first of them despite refusing to play in Algeria after their T-shirts with the disputed map were confiscated.

They will face Egyptian giants Zamalek in the final, with the first leg taking place in Morocco on May 12 before the return leg in Cairo seven days later.

Disputed territory causes suspensions

An RS Berkane kit with a map of Morocco including the disputed territory of Western Sahara

The map of Morocco in the center of the row includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara. [Getty Images]

Algeria and Morocco share a border of almost 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles), which has been a source of tension since independence from French colonial rule.

The border between the countries and Algeria is currently closed. They broke diplomatic relations three years ago.

A long-running dispute over Western Sahara, a sparsely populated territory annexed by Morocco in 1975, has also strained relations.

Its indigenous Sahrawi people, led by the Polisario Front and with a government in exile in Algeria, mounted a 16-year insurgency that ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991.

In that context, Algerian customs officials confiscated RS Berkane’s kit upon the team’s arrival in the country last month.

The Moroccan side refused to wear alternative shirts and He didn’t come out of his dressing room for the start of the first leg on April 21.

Host team USM Alger were punished with a 3-0 defeat by a Caf panel, and an appeal against the decision was rejected by the continent’s governing body.

A Caf committee had previously granted permission for Berkane to wear the enlarged map shirts, and Faf and USM Alger failed in an attempt to revoke that in a previous request to Cas on April 26, two days before the second leg.

USM Alger traveled to Morocco for the second leg, but did not take the field on Sunday. with the match was canceled and Berkane achieved another 3-0 victory.

The Algerian club’s hopes of retaining the Confederation Cup title now appear to rest with Cas.

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