South Africa angry after Morocco offer to host Liberia AFCON qualifiers
Another venue row involving Morocco is brewing, this time over qualifying for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the Ivory Coast.
Liberia have no international-standard stadium and Group K rivals Morocco say the west Africans can stage their three home fixtures in the kingdom.
But group rivals South Africa have cried foul, sending a letter on Thursday to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) urging them not to allow Morocco play Liberia twice at home.
“We have been informed that Liberia intends to play their qualifying matches in Morocco, while they are with Morocco in the same group,” the South African Football Association letter said.
“South Africa opposes this arrangement, which goes against the principles of fair play as Morocco will travel less and enjoy home advantage more than anyone else in the group.
“We understand the challenges (finding international standard) stadiums present on the continent, but we advocate that this is not used to disadvantage countries or give others an unfair advantage.”
In 2022 World Cup qualifying, Morocco played their three away matches at home because Guinea-Bissau and Sudan did not have international-class venues and a coup in Guinea prevented the qualifier going ahead.
Morocco won all six matches, then defeated the Democratic Republic of Congo in a home and away play-off to clinch a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations is due to begin on May 30 with two matchdays between then and June 14. Morocco are scheduled to host South Africa and visit Liberia during that period.
This week, Egyptian club Al Ahly asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland to overturn a CAF decision giving the 2022 CAF Champions League final hosting rights to Morocco.
CAF did not specify where in Morocco the match would be played, but the Stade Mohammed V home of Wydad Casablanca would be the obvious choice as its 65,000 capacity is the biggest in the kingdom.
The semi-final second legs are scheduled for this Friday and Saturday and Ahly and Wydad are hot favourites to reach the final.
Ahly want the May 30 title decider staged in a neutral country, while CAF said they chose Morocco because the only other bidders, Senegal, withdrew.