RABAT - Morocco will not take part in a soccer tournament being held in Algeria after the Algerian government rejected its request for the team to fly there directly on Morocco's national airline, the Moroccan football federation said on Thursday.
Algeria closed its airspace to Moroccan aircraft in 2021 after it unilaterally severed diplomatic ties with its North African neighbour.
Morocco are the title holders of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) for players under 23 who still play in African countries. The tournament starts on Friday and finishes on Feb. 4.
Soccer authorities in Rabat had written to the Confederation of African Football to say Morocco would only take part if its team could take a direct flight to Algeria with Royal Air Maroc.
Morocco's senior national team last month became the first from an African country to reach the World Cup semi-finals, raising the global profile of Moroccan soccer.
Algeria and Morocco are at odds over a range of issues including the future of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco regards as its own but where Algeria backs an armed independence movement.
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Ken Ferris)