Wide Angle

Full map of Morocco on Berkane football club jersey irritates Algeria

Moroccan football club Renaissance Sportive de Berkane (RSB) faced delays at Algiers International Airport due to their jerseys, which depict the Moroccan map including the Sahara.

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Moroccan club Renaissance Sportive de Berkane (RSB) players faced delays upon arrival at Algiers International Airport Houari Boumediene on Friday. Algerian media reports attributed the hold-up to the inclusion of a map of Morocco encompassing the Sahara on the team's jerseys.

Initially denying the players' claims, Algerian media eventually acknowledged the official explanation. Fennec Football cited concerns about the «jersey's compliance with FIFA regulations due to its politicized map depicting Western Sahara as part of Morocco». To back its claims, the newspaper referenced FIFA articles 10.3.6 and 4.3.1 on prohibiting political symbols on equipment.

By the same token, Ennaharonline stated Algerian authorities based their decision on FIFA and CAF regulations against political slogans on players' shirts, permitting only national flag colors.

IFAB regulations

However, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) regulations in Article 4 offer the most relevant guidelines. It specifies equipment restrictions on «political, religious, or personal» slogans or imagery. Players are also prohibited from displaying similar messages on undershirts. Notably, the IFAB is a collaboration between FIFA and the founding football associations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

One Algerian outlet suggested simply replacing the «controversial map» with a Moroccan flag. Echoroukonline, on the other hand, accused Morocco of «politicizing Berkane's mission in Algeria», highlighting RSB president Fouzi Lekjaa's position as head of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.

Despite the airport delay, Algerian media acknowledged the warm welcome extended to the Berkane delegation by the Union Sportive de la Medina d'Alger. The RSB team is set to face USM d'Alger in the African Football Confederation Cup semifinals on Sunday.

This incident follows Algeria's February 2021 campaign against maps depicting the Sahara as part of Morocco, even on items like small-shop globes.

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