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Algeria takes Morocco to the Court of Arbitration for Sport

Headquarters of the international Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne   -  
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A soccer politics dispute between Algeria and Morocco over a map of disputed Western Sahara territory on a team jersey will go to a full appeal hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Algerian soccer federation and USM Alger club are challenging a decision by the Confederation of African Football to let Moroccan club RS Berkane wear a team jersey that features a map of Morocco which includes the region.

The dispute has already affected the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final games between the two teams.

A match on 21 April in Algiers did not go ahead after Berkane refused to wear replacement shirts provided by the home team, after the Moroccans uniforms were seized at the airport by Algerian authorities.

CAF ruled that the Algerian club was in breach of competition rules and Berkane was awarded a 3-0 win by default.

An urgent appeal by the Algerians to suspend CAF’s ruling on the shirt was denied last week by the sports court in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On 28 April, defending champions USM Alger went to Berkane’s stadium for the second leg but refused to play if the hosts wore the jerseys with the map.

CAF awarded a second default win to Berkane.

The laws of soccer state that “equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images”, but the Moroccan team have been wearing the jersey the whole season.

The court said on Thursday the two sides “are currently exchanging written submissions” and that no timetable for appointing a panel of judges or a date for a hearing have been set yet.

Berkane is scheduled to play the two-leg final on 12 and 19 May against Zamalek of Egypt, but it is not clear if the Algerian appeal will be judged before those games.

The full appeal in the case has now been brought against CAF, the Moroccan soccer federation, and Berkane.

One of the African soccer body’s most influential officials, FIFA Council member Fouzi Lekjaa, is president of the Moroccan federation and a former president of the Berkane club.

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1975.

The United Nations brokered a ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front, which is supported by Algeria, that held until four years ago.

Algeria cut diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021.