The Royal Moroccan Football Federation have reacted positively to the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has overturned the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decision to ban Morocco from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The original decision from the African football governing body was made as a result of Morocco pulling out of hosting the 2015 AFCON late last year over concerns about the potential spread of the Ebola virus from other affected areas of Africa to the North African nation.
Morocco’s decision to refuse their AFCON responsibilities came with the tournament only a few months away, meaning that CAF needed to find an emergency replacement at the last minute, angering Africa’s football governing body, which led to them imposing sanctions on the Moroccans which included a ban from the Nations Cup in January, which they were supposed to host.
Equatorial Guinea came in to replace Morocco as host nation, and they performed admirably, hosting the tournament without any Ebola complications that they Moroccans had feared.
At a CAF meeting in Bata during the Nations Cup, president Issa Hayatou and his executive committee decided that the sanctions would include Morocco being banned from the next two AFCON competitions while also receiving a $1million fine and requiring that €8.5 million in damages be paid to CAF.
The Moroccans reacted to the CAF decisions by rejecting them and appealing to the CAS to oversee the issue and decide on a final outcome, which has now been reviewed in favour of Morocco. Authorities in Morocco and the coach of the national team have revealed their joy over the decision, which will see them return in time for the qualifying campaign of Africa’s flagship competition.
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FRMF vice president Nour Eldin Boushehati told the media, “It’s a historical day for the Moroccan people. Now we will be back to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers, since the first day and I knew we will win this case. We should be ready now.”
Morocco national team coach Badou Zaki also spoke to the media, and said, “I am very happy, not as Morocco head coach but as a Moroccan man. We win as a country and people. Now everything has changed, and we will start to prepare for the match because the draw will be this month in Egypt.”
Qualifying for the 2017 AFCON begins in June, with 2018 World Cup qualifiers for African teams commencing in October.