African football’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football (Caf), has launched an investigation into political remarks made by Nelson Mandela’s grandson during the opening ceremony of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria.
In a statement, Caf said it will “assess whether there was compliance” with rules laid out by both Caf and world governing body Fifa.
The Moroccan Football Federation (FMRF) sent Caf a protest after the comments made at the CHAN opening ceremony on Friday, 13 January, where Zwelivelile Mandela was a guest of the local organising committee.
Both the ceremony and the tournament’s opening match, in which Algeria beat Libya 1-0, were held at the newly-built Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.
In part of his speech, Mr Mandela said, “The last colony of Africa, Western Sahara. Let us fight to free Western Sahara from oppression.”
In the protest letter seen by the BBC, the FMRF claims the statement on Western Sahara had no connection with the tournament or football in general and was targeted exclusively at the Kingdom of Morocco.
Western Sahara is a sparsely populated area situated on the northwest coast of Africa. A former Spanish colony, it was annexed by Morocco in 1975.
Since then, it has been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Morocco and its indigenous Saharawi people, with Algeria backing the Saharawi’s claim for independence.