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Moroccan club declared winners after shirt diplomacy row

By AFP

April 25, 2024 11:02 AM


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Morocco's Renaissance Berkane were on Wednesday awarded a 3-0 win over Algerian rivals USM Alger in their African Confederation Cup semi-final after the game was cancelled over a row over playing jerseys.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has decided "to sanction USM Alger with a 0-3 forfeit for the USM Alger vs RS Berkane match," said a letter sent by CAF to the Algerian football federation and seen by AFP.

"The second leg match at the Berkane municipal stadium on April 28, 2024, is maintained."

The row began last Friday morning when the Moroccan squad arrived in Algeria ahead of the first-leg tie.

Customs officers confiscated Berkane's shirts on the grounds that they carried a map of Morocco that included the disputed Western Sahara.

Shortly before Sunday's kick-off, USM Alger sporting director Toufik Korichi told Algerian radio that the match would not be played because Berkane refused to take to the pitch in any other shirts

The former Spanish colony of Western Sahara is largely controlled by Morocco but claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which seeks the territory's independence.

Algeria broke off diplomatic relations with Morocco in 2021, partly over the issue.

On Saturday, CAF responded to an appeal against the shirts by the Algerian football federation (FAF) by ruling in favour of Berkane, saying the club had been wearing the same jerseys since the start of the tournament.

FAF president Walid Sadi then announced that he intended to take the case to the "international court of sport".


AFP


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