Confusion reigns over African Champions League winners as CAS dismisses decision to replay final
- Esperance were leading 1-0 (2-1 agg) when Wydad left the pitch after 58 mins
- Wydad wanted to appeal a disallowed goal but the VAR system wasn’t working
- After a long delay Esperance were named winners and given trophy and medals
- Africa’s governing body CAF then ruled the final would have to be replayed
- The Court of Arbitration for Sport has now dismissed that ruling
Tunisia’s Esperance have declared themselves winners of this year’s African Champions League title after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed a decision by the executive committee of African football’s governing body CAF to make them replay the final.
But the Tunis-based club appear to have jumped the gun, as sport’s highest court has only partially upheld the appeals they and their Moroccan opponents Wydad lodged against the controversial CAF ruling.
CAS has not actually awarded the hotly-disputed title to Esperance, scrapping the need for a replay, it has simply said that the CAF executive committee did not have the jurisdiction to order one and the matter should be decided by the African confederation’s relevant authorities.
Wydad asked the referee to watch a replay after he disallowed a goal in the second half
Wydad players then refused to continue playing after the VAR system failed to work
Esperance were named winners but it is now unclear whether the final will be replayed
If this sounds confusing, it is in keeping with a contest that has been chaotic ever since Wydad’s players left the field with more than half an hour still to play in the final’s second leg.
They were incensed by the referee’s decision to disallow what would have been an equaliser, a decision he was unable to review as the video assistant referee system was not working.
After a long delay, and with Esperance leading 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate, the Tunisians were declared winners and given the trophy and medals.
But a week later, in equally farcical circumstances, an emergency meeting of CAF’s leadership in Paris reversed that decision and ordered the two teams to replay the second leg at a still unspecified time and place.
Now, however, the whole matter is up in the air again, with a CAS statement saying: “It is now for the competent CAF authorities to review the incidents which occurred in the Rades stadium on May 31, to order the appropriate disciplinary sanctions, if any, and accordingly to decide whether the second leg of the CAF Champions League Final shall be replayed or not.”
This ruling is another defeat for CAF president Ahmad, who was arrested by the French authorities as part of a corruption investigation a day after the Paris meeting.
The former leader of Madagascar’s senate was released without charge but he remains under investigation in France and by FIFA’s ethics committee.
And just to add to the confusion, FIFA’s general secretary Fatma Samoura has just been appointed as the international governing body’s “delegate for Africa” on a six-month brief to improve governance standards in African football.
In the meantime, both Esperance and Wydad have been given byes in the first round of this season’s African Champions League but neither still know for sure how last season’s final will be resolved and which of them has earned the right to take on the likes of Liverpool at the Club World Cup in Qatar in December.