RABAT ( Associated Press) — After their sensational performance at the World Cup, Morocco could boycott next month’s Africa Cup of Nations amid a diplomatic row with hosts Algeria.
The Moroccan football federation has warned that the team will only compete if there are direct flights from the capital Rabat to the Algerian city of Constantine, where Morocco plays its matches.
Moroccan commercial and military aircraft have been banned from flying over Algerian airspace since the two neighbors severed diplomatic ties last year.
The dispute relates to a number of issues, including territorial claims over Western Sahara, an area Morocco annexed in 1975 and from which Algerian-backed Sahrawis have sought independence.
The Moroccan federation insisted in a statement on Tuesday that it had written to the Union of African Football about procedures for continental sporting events, and asked them to “facilitate conditions for the participating teams”.
In its letter to the African Union, the federation demanded that the squad be able to fly directly to Constantine on a private plane from Royal Air Maroc, the official airline of the Moroccan national teams.
The Algerian government has not publicly responded to the demand.
Players from local clubs will participate in the African Cup of Nations to be held from January 13 to February 4. Morocco will face Sudan, Madagascar and Ghana in the group stage.
Morocco has become the first Arab or African country to reach the semi-finals of this year’s World Cup in Qatar.