Morocco – Algeria CHAN episode; Amaju Pinnick condemns infiltration of politics into football

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Amaju Pinnick (C)

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Nigeria’s member of FIFA Council as well as executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has condemned the denial of Morocco by Algeria to defend  at the ongoing tournament, the back-to-back African Nations Championship title the Atlas Lions won in 2018 and 2020.

If Morocco had featured and won the tournament again, it would have been the first hattrick victory in the tournament that debuted in 2009.

“We must preserve the values of world football”, Amaju Pinnick titled the statement he issued late on Tuesday night.

He remarked: “as a member of the world football family and stakeholder in African football, I am concerned that Morocco, the defending champion of the African Nations Championship, CHAN, was hindered from participating in the  2023 edition of the tournament holding in Algeria.

“According to the Moroccan Football Federation, it was compelled to withdraw from the tournament when the Algerian authorities failed to grant clearance to Air Maroc, the official airline of the Moroccan team, to access the Constantine Airport in Algeria, 24 hours to the kick off, after the Algerian authorities had assured the Confederation of African Football, CAF, that it would and CAF in turn had conveyed same assurance to the Moroccan Football Federation. 

“Even more disturbing were the political remarks at the opening ceremony and xenophobic chants by Algerian fans.

“While not interfering in any political issues that may exist between both countries, we must be reminded that football promotes world unity and peace and all member countries of FIFA and indeed nations which bid to host events should accordingly be willing and ready to act with the same understanding.

“As has been repeatedly admonished by FIFA and most recently by President Gianni Infantino and Secretary Fatma Samoura at the just concluded FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we must focus on football and not drag the game into every ideological or political differences that may exist between nations.

“I am therefore saddened by these occurrences at the African Nations Championship, a very important tournament in the calendar of African football for the development of home based players.

“I believe that the leadership of CAF and FIFA would apply necessary measures as captured in the relevant articles in the FIFA Statutes to serve as deterrence against future occurrence and to preserve the beautiful game.”

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