Defending champions Morocco have pulled out of the African Nations for Championships (CHAN) 2023 tournament.
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) announced Morocco's non-participation in a press release on Thursday, January 12.
Explaining its decision, the FRMF stressed that "the Moroccan football team is not able to travel to Constantine (Algeria) as the permission for Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flight, official carrier of the Moroccan national team, from Rabat to Constantine has not been confirmed."
In December 2022, FRMF sent a request to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), emphasizing that Morocco would not participate in the tournament should Algeria refuse to allow the Moroccan delegation to fly directly from Rabat to Constantine with the country’s official carrier Royal Air Maroc.
In today’s communique, FRMF recalled having filed a request, stressing that the national team continued their training at the Mohammed VI Football Complex in Sale from January 6-10 as part of their preparation for the tournament.
“While the trip of the Moroccan selection from Rabat to Constantine is organized by the FRMF and the kick-off of CHAN is scheduled for January 13, 2023, meaning in 24 hours, the FRMF notes with regret that obtaining a final authorization of the RAM flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately still not been confirmed by CAF,” FRMF regretted.
Amid Algeria’s reluctance and ambiguity, Algerian media stressed that an absence of an official response indicates Algeria’s rejection to accept Morocco’s request.
Last week, Algeria’s Minister of Sports Abderrazak Sebgag vowed that his country will communicate its response to Morocco’s request through “official channels.”
“The FAF will respond to CAF via official channels. Algeria has its laws, its sovereignty which is above all consideration,” he said.
Algerian news outlet TAS, however, stressed that Sebgag’s remarks “signifies Algeria’s rejection” of Morocco’s request.
Tensions between the two countries were exacerbated in 2021 after Algeria accused Morocco of interfering in its domestic affairs.
The Algerian regime also closed its airspace and cut ties with Morocco in 2021.
The CHAN 2023 starts on Friday, January 13 and won’t see joint-record title holders Morocco at the seventh edition.