The second National Algerian Athletes’ Forum, organised by the Algerian Olympic and Sports Committee (COA), was held on 9 December 2017 in Zeralda. The Forum was attended by former Algerian athletes who have served their country on the international stage, such as Nourredine Morceli, Hassiba Boulmerka, Abderrahmane Hammad, Ali Seidi Sief, Soraya Haddad, Mohamed Allalou, Larbi Bourada and Mohamed Flissi.
There were also other former Algerian sporting figures in attendance, including IOC Honorary Member Mustapha Larfaoui and Mohamed Yamani, the first athlete to represent Algeria at the Olympic Games, in Tokyo in 1964.
This second edition addressed topics related to the lives of athletes both during and after their sports careers, focusing on the following areas:
- athletes’ rights and duties;
- athlete career changes;
- communication: athlete-media relations; and
- doping as a social scourge.
Ali Fergani, a former footballer with the Algerian national team and President of the Former International Footballers Association (AAIF), lamented the fact that “many footballers cannot support themselves. It’s sad, what happens to footballers once their careers are over. It’s essential to protect athletes so that they can live with dignity. It’s not normal that footballers receive millions yet don’t pay social security contributions. The law must be applied to ensure that footballers receive a pension after their careers have finished.”
Algeria’s 1,500m Olympic champion, Hassiba Boulmerka, concurred. “This is a serious matter; it’s awful to hear that former athletes are living in such precarious situations. Unfortunately, these circumstances mean that athletes have to make use of the normal career-change measures put in place by the state. World and Olympic champions should have a special status.”
Judoka Soraya Haddad, a bronze medallist at the Olympic Games in Beijing, was of the same opinion. “I was lucky enough to obtain a qualification, which has allowed me to earn a wage – otherwise I would have been in the same situation.”
On the sidelines of the Forum, Olympic 1,500m champion Nouredine Morceli was awarded the Olympic Order of Merit by the COA