Cas to hear Algerian appeal in Morocco map row

The building hosting the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is based in Lausanne, Switzerland [Getty Images]

A row over an extended map of Morocco on a football shirt has escalated after the Algerian Football Federation (Faf) and club side USM Alger lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Both legs of the Caf Confederation Cup semi-final between USM Alger and RS Berkane were called off because the latter club insisted on wearing a strip bearing a map of Morocco which includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The map is seen as a political provocation in Algeria.

Faf and USM Alger have asked Cas to to rule that the Berkane shirt “contravenes the laws of the game, Confederation of African Football (Caf) regulations and Fifa rules”.

The world governing body’s equipment regulations state that no item of kit which includes political statements or images may be worn.

Cas said an arbitral panel is being appointed, but did not give any timescale on when the case would be heard.

The Switzerland-based organisation added that written submissions from all parties, which include Caf, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF) and RS Berkane, are being exchanged.

“Once constituted, the arbitral panel will issue instructions for the next phase of the proceedings, including the holding of a hearing,” a statement on the Cas website said.

Berkane progressed to the Confederation Cup final after being awarded two 3-0 wins by Caf – the first of those despite refusing to play in Algeria after their shirts bearing the disputed map were confiscated.

They will face Egyptian giants Zamalek in the final, with the first leg scheduled to be in Morocco on 12 May before the return tie in Cairo seven days later.

Disputed territory leads to call-offs

A RS Berkane kit with a map of Morocco which includes the disputed territory of Western SaharaA RS Berkane kit with a map of Morocco which includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara

The map of Morocco at the centre of the row includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara [Getty Images]

Algeria and Morocco share a nearly 2,000 km (1,242 miles) border, which has been a source of tension since independence from French colonial rule.

The border is currently closed between the countries and Algeria severed diplomatic ties three years ago.

A long-running dispute about Western Sahara, a sparsely-populated territory annexed by Morocco in 1975, has also strained relations.

Its indigenous Sahrawi people, led by the Polisario Front and with a government in exile in Algeria, mounted a 16-year-long insurgency that ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991.

Against that backdrop, Algerian customs officials seized RS Berkane’s kit on the squad’s arrival in the country last month.

The Moroccan side refused to wear alternative shirts and did not emerge from their dressing room for kick-off in the first leg on 21 April.

Host side USM Alger were punished with a 3-0 defeat by a Caf panel, and an appeal against the decision was rejected by the continent’s governing body.

A Caf committee has previously granted permission for Berkane to wear the shirts with the extended map, and Faf and USM Alger failed in a bid to overturn that in a previous request to Cas on 26 April, two days before the second leg.

USM Alger travelled to Morocco for the return tie but did not take to the field on Sunday, with the match was cancelled and Berkane handed another 3-0 win.

The Algerian club’s hopes of retaining the Confederation Cup title now appear to lie with the case at Cas.

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