January 12, (THEWILL) – Morocco has announced that it will be canceling its participation in the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which is set to take place in Algeria starting Friday.
The Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) said in a statement that the team is unable to reach the host city of Constantine due to the fact that permission for their flight with Royal Air Maroc, the team’s official transporter, has not been confirmed. The statement also said that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had informed the FRMF last month that Algeria had issued an “authorization in principle” for the flight.
The FRMF said it “notes with regret that the definitive authorization for the flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately not been confirmed” just 24 hours before the tournament begins. The statement also blames Algeria for closing its airspace to Moroccan flights in September 2021, after cutting off diplomatic ties with the kingdom and accusing it of “hostile acts.”
This move is the latest escalation in the long-running rivalry between the two countries, which is fuelled by the Western Sahara dispute and relations with Israel.
The Moroccan team, which made history last month by becoming the first African or Arab team ever to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, is also the two-time reigning champion of CHAN.