Morocco cancels participation in CHAN tournament, blames Algeria
Before the CHAN tournament kicks off in Algeria, the Moroccan football federation says Morocco will not compete.
Morocco announced on Thursday that it was canceling its participation in the African Nations Championship, accusing host Algeria, the Kingdom's neighbor, of closing its airspace to Moroccan flights.
"The Moroccan national team is unable to reach (the Algerian city of) Constantine because permission for their flight with Royal Air Maroc, the team's official transporter, has not been confirmed," Morocco's FRMF football federation claimed in a statement.
It said the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had informed it last month that Algeria had issued "an authorization in principle" for the flight.
Just 24 hours before the tournament starts on Friday, the FRMF said it "notes with regret that the definitive authorization for the flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately not been confirmed."
Algeria closed its airspace to all Moroccan flights in September 2021, the month after it cut off diplomatic ties with its neighbor, accusing it of "hostile acts".
That was the latest escalation in a long-running rivalry fuelled by the Western Sahara issue and Morocco normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation.
The Moroccan team, which made history last month by becoming the first African or Arab team ever to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, have won the past two African Nations Championships.