Arab Football Union Divides Moroccan Map Excludes Western Sahara

Rabat – The Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA), chaired by Saudi sports official Turki Al Sheikh, has divided the Moroccan map into three parts, excluding Western Sahara from Morocco.The map, which has since been deleted from Twitter, showed the football clubs that qualified for the eighth round of the Zayed Champions Cup.The union had not divided the Moroccan map into two parts, but into three sections. The first part showed northern and central Morocco and part of the southern provinces. The second part showed Western Sahara, and the third section showed the regions east of Morocco’s defense wall claimed as “liberated zones” by the Polisario Front.Although the map is used by the United Nations and international NGOs, it is the first time UAFA used the map.Moroccan news outlets have been speculating how the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) will respond to the map.The MAP displayed by UAFA excluded the Western Sahara from the Moroccan mapturkiUAFA deleted the post from their official Twitter account this morning.Intentional move?After Saudi Arabia’ provocative move to lobby against Morocco’s 2026 World Cup bid, analysts have viewed Saudi moves as unfavorable to Morocco’s interests.Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia surprised Morocco when it lobbied for its economic ally, the US, to win the hosting rights, against Morocco.Morocco has an unfriendly history with Al Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s football federation, who expressed anti-Moroccan sentiments several times throughout the World Cup bid. Al Sheikh complained of Morocco’s neutral position on the Gulf crisis between Qatar and the Saudi-led coalition.Read Also: After 2026 World Cup Row, Al Sheikh Says Morocco Should Host CAN 2019Since the bid, Moroccan-Saudi relations have continued to be characterized by tension. King Mohammed VI’s neutrality in the Jamal Khashoggi case also angered Saudi Arabia.Several Arab countries used the slogan “Saudi Arabia is a red line,” when the international community suspected the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.Morocco has remained neutral and has not stated any position on the case. King Mohammed VI, a government source told Morocco World News, also declined to personally receive bin Salman in Morocco when he was on a world tour in late November.Read Also: King Mohammed VI Snubs Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanThe King refused to receive bin Salman due to his “busy agenda” and suggested his brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, receive bin Salman instead. The crown prince then did not visit Morocco. The King’s decision might have flared the tension between the two countries.Bin Salman, who also visited Algeria, was surprised by a last minute decision from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose office announced a change in his agenda at the last minute. Bouteflika’s office said that the president could not meet bin Salman due to “flu,” resulting in speculations that the Algerian president also refused to personally meet bin Salman. read more