Rabat – An Algerian club withdrew from the Arab Handball Championship a day before the event kicked off in the eastern Moroccan city of Oujda, in protest against the participation of a Moroccan team from the Western Saharan city of Smara.
The Arab Handball Championship started on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Algerian club Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers withdrew from the tournament as a reaction to the participation of the Moroccan Widad Smara, the current title holder of the Moroccan league.
In a press release, the Royal Moroccan Handball Federation (FRMHB) denounced what it called an “unacceptable decision,” stating that Widad Smara has the right to represent Morocco in the championship, as Western Sahara is an integral part of the Kingdom, adding that the withdrawal of the Algerian team would not change geography.
This is the second time the Algeria club has withdrawn from the championship for the same reason. A similar incident happened in 2013.
The Moroccan federation said the Algerian club’s decision has turned the work of the organizing committee upside down.
The issue has been a subject of contention between Rabat and Algiers for four decades.