THE SA Football Association (Safa) will pull out of the scheduled 2020 Africa Futsal Cup of Nations (Afcon) due to political tension in the host country, Morocco, SunSport understands.
The indoor football tournament, which is expected to run from 28 January to 7 February, is scheduled to be hosted at a disputed city of Laayoune, the largest city of the disputed territory of Western Sahara and administered by Morocco.
Safa is expected to call up a media briefing this week to announce their withdrawal from the tournament where they qualified in October last year at the Orlando Community Hall, Soweto - following a 5-1 victory against Mauritius.
Safa president Danny Jordaan confirmed they have been warned by government not to take part in the tournament because of the disputed venue, which poses a big risk to the players.
"We have to withdraw from the Futsal Afcon because of the issues with Morocco and the South Africa Republic," said Jordaan.
"Morocco insists on taking the tournament there ( Laayoune), and we advised them through a letter not to, but they won’t listen. Now our government’s position is that Laayoune is a disputed area and occupied territory.
"Despite the political tension between the two countries, South Africa and Morocco, the Safa teams have played in Morocco before.
"Remember our Under 20 men's team?" asks Jordaan.
"In fact, the South African government helped us fight with Sascoc when they said we are not going there. And we said our team have qualified and we must go there. So eventually the government stepped in and said we can go. But on this one, they are not playing inside the boundaries of Morocco, or as we understand it, they are playing it in Laayoune, an Arab Republic territory. And therefore it is disputed area.
"We have written a letter to Caf and we have played in Rabat, Marrakesh, Casablanca, Tangier. Mamelodi Sundowns have played there before, our U-17 girls played there, U-20 both men and women, but this won't happen in Laayoune".
According to Jordaan, it is sad that the players were looking forward to the Cup of Nations but politics have to blow their dreams away.
In a letter seen by SunSport from acting Safa CEO Gay Mokoena, they will write a letter to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to alert them of their withdrawal.
Part of the letter read: "Accordingly, we are proceeding to inform Caf that, unfortunately, due to the policies of our country, the Republic of SA, in respect of the Sahawawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Morocco dispute over Western Sahara, we withdraw our Futball national team..."
This is following a consultation with all their National Executive Members, of which 21 voted for the withdrawal while five said they must take part.
But Safa runs the risk of being fined about R1,2 million for the withdrawal, but Mokoena said they will ask for the fine not to be imposed on them.