CAF and FIFA Council member, Fouzi Lekjaa cries foul over Algeria ‘blockade’ of Morocco



Fouzi Lekjaa, the President of Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF) who is also an executive committee member of CAF as well as FIFA Council member has condemned the denial of  Morocco to feature in the African nations Championship (CHAN) as a “shame.”

Lekjaa emphasized that Morocco’s U23 football team has been preparing for the tournament for six months.

“The national team seeks to defend its title…As you see the national team is well prepared and arrived at the Rabat-Sale airport ready to travel to take part. But we have not obtained permission until now,” Lekjaa told reporters at the airport.

Morocco’s football delegation arrived at the airport this (Friday) morning, pending an official response from Algerian authorities.

In December 2022, Morocco’s FRMF announced that it has submitted a request to Algerian authorities and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to secure authorization that would allow the national football team to travel from Rabat through a Royal Air Maroc flight directly to Constantine.

FRMF’s president explained that the request is legitimate as Royal Air Maroc is the official carrier for the national team.

The president stressed that Morocco will not take part in the tournament if the request is not met.

Lekjaa’s remarks today came in conjunction with the arrival of FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of CAF Patrice Motsepe, who will both attend the draw for the FIFA Club World Cup.

The draw started today at 12:00 p.m. at the Mohammed VI Football Academy in Sale, near Rabat.

Photos from the event show Infantino and Motsepe in the waiting room with the U23 team, which is still pending a response from Algerian authorities.

Several Algerian officials have hinted at their country’s rejection of Morocco’s request.

Recently, the head of the CHAN organizing committee Rachid Oukali claimed that the host country is not responsible for ensuring direct travel routes for the participating teams.

Morocco responded to Oukali’s claims, stressing that the national team is not awaiting a special flight from Algeria but for permission to allow a Royal Air Maroc to carry the Atlas Lions to Constantine.

However, Algeria’s Sports Minister Abderezak Sebag  hinted at his country’s rejection of Morocco’s request, saying that Algiers’ sovereignty is “above all considerations.”

Algeria closed its airspace and cut ties with Morocco in 2021 over unproven allegations of Moroccan interference in Algerian affairs.

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