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Cape Town — The South African Football Association (SAFA) has announced its decision to withdraw the national team from the 2020 Africa Futsal Cup of Nations to be hosted in Morocco.

The national administrative governing body confirmed that it reached its decision after “Morocco insisted on hosting the tournament in Laayoune which is in disputed Western Sahara.”

In a series of tweets, SAFA said it supported the stance taken by its government by displaying their solidarity with the Sahrawi in withdrawing from the tournament to increase pressure on Morocco to grant Western Sahara its independence.

“South Africa has no issue in playing in Morocco but in line with SA government and AU resolutions, we will not play in Western Sahara, ” SAFA President Danny Jordaan said.

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Although Safa runs the risk of being fined about R1,2 million for the withdrawal, the football body’s acting CEO, Gay Mokoena said they will ask for the fine not to be imposed on them.

“We are aware of the possible fine from CAF and other repercussions following our decision to withdraw from the FUTSAL tournament but this was a difficult decision which we had to make,” he said.

It’s been more than 40 years since Morocco claimed sovereignty over Western Sahara, setting off a conflict that seems no closer to resolution.

There isn’t much to celebrate in Western Sahara for its people, with freedom of speech and assembly severely limited. Protests against the Moroccan colonial power are violently dispersed, and the security forces routinely use torture against protesters, according to Amnesty International’s annual reports.

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