Map reading: CAF awards Renaissance Berkane win over USM Alger after game cancelled

April 25 – Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane have been awarded a 3-0 win over Algerian rivals USM Alger in their African Confederation Cup semi-final after the game was cancelled at the 11th hour over a row about Berkane’s shirts.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided “to sanction USM Alger with a 0-3 forfeit for the USM Alger vs RS Berkane match,” said a letter sent by CAF to the Algerian football federation.

“The second leg match at the Berkane municipal stadium on April 28, 2024, is maintained.”

The dispute began two days before the first leg when the Moroccan squad arrived in Algeria.

Local media reported that customs officers confiscated Berkane’s shirts, citing the presence of a map of Morocco that included the disputed Western Sahara region.

As tensions escalated, the match was called off when Berkane refused to take to the pitch in alternative shirts.

The former Spanish colony of Western Sahara is largely controlled by Morocco but claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which seeks the territory’s independence. The dispute has previously led to Algeria severing diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021.

In response to an appeal filed by the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) against the shirts, CAF ruled in favour of Berkane, stating that the club had been using the same ones since the tournament began.

But FAF refused to abide by the CAF ruling, with its president Wafi Sadi declaring his federation would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and asserting at the time: “Our position is clear, we will not back down, and we are ready for anything.”

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