Rabat – On March 12, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) approved an amendment that would exclude any potential participation of the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in tournaments hosted by the organization.
Originally, article 4 stated that “the [CAF] is open to all candidatures from African national associations as official representatives managing football in their respective countries.”
With the passing of the amendment, the article now stipulates that the CAF is open to all candidates from African national associations in countries specifically “recognized as an independent state and member of the UN.”
The requirement of being a UN member state will pacify any potential attempts by the Algerian-backed SADR to join the confederation, earning Morocco another diplomatic victory.
Fouzi Lekjaa, President of Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF), Vice-President of CAF, and the first Moroccan member of the FIFA Council, has been trying to get the amendment passed for several months now, reports Jeune Afrique. Lekjaa finally succeeded, at the 43rd CAF General Assembly that took place on the outskirts of Rabat, on March 12.
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The recently-elected president of CAF Patrice Motsepe promised in February that, if elected, he would keep Western Sahara off the football pitch. Considering the amendment, Motsepe stayed true to his word.
Beside Lekjaa’s campaigning within the CAF, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita also raised the issue during the recent visit of FIFA president Gianni Infantino to Morocco. Bourita stressed the need for continental football to stay free of politics.
Considering South Africa’s vocal support for the separatist SADR, many Moroccan officials and observers feared that as South Africa was set to take the presidency, football in Africa could soon become yet another place for anti-Moroccan activism.
The CAF is the administrative body for association football in Africa. The organization represents the national football associations on the continent, runs club, national, and continental competitions, as well as handles the rights and media access to the events.