ALGIERS: Algerian side USM Alger’s African Confederation Cup semi-final first leg tie against Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane did not go ahead on Sunday because of a political dispute over the visiting team’s jersey, leaving the outcome of the tie open to a ruling from the African confederation.

The Reuters agency reported that the Berkane shirt features an expansive map of Morocco, including the disputed Western Sahara which has been a bone of contention between Rabat and Algiers, with the border between the neighbouring north African countries closed since the 1990s.

When the Moroccan side arrived in Algeria on Friday, their kit was confiscated by customs and the team detained at the airport for several hours before being allowed to proceed to their hotel, media reported.

Algeria see the map, which is displayed in the centre of the jersey, as a provocation and local media commentators claimed it was illegal to make a political statement on a football jersey.

But Berkane used the same jersey throughout this year’s competition and the Confederation of African Football upheld their right to wear it in Sunday’s first leg in Algiers after a hastily convened meeting of their inter-clubs committee.

Both sides arrived at the stadium in Algiers for Sunday’s match but while holders USMA came out for the kick off, Berkane remained in their change room, presumably in protest at not being able to wear their kit.

Tensions over Western Sahara have tarnished relations since Morocco annexed the territory after Spain left in 1975. Western Sahara is sparsely populated with phosphate reserves and rich fishing grounds.