Wednesday Aug 07, 2019. 11:30
By Mark Gleeson
A decision on the disputed Africa Champions League final could come as early as Wednesday when the Confederation of African Football’s disciplinary committee sits to hear the case between Esperance of Tunisia and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca.
The case was refereed to the DC for a decision by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) after overturning June’s controversial decision by CAF’s executive committee that the second leg be replayed.
The DC is to sit in Cairo on Wednesday just a week after CAS called for them to be the final arbitrator.
The identity of the winner of the top club prize in African football is still limbo after the bizarre walk off in Tunis in May when the Video Assistant Referee machinery was not working and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca refused to continue with the game after having a goal disallowed.
The trophy was awarded to Esperance of Tunisia, but they were told, just days later, to return the trophy and winners’ medals after the CAF executive committee ordered a replay on neutral territory.
But CAS, after appeals by both clubs, ruled that CAF’s executive committee were “not competent to order that the final be replayed”.
They annulled the decision and referred the case to “the competent bodies of CAF”, meaning its disciplinary committee deal with the case and decide on the outcome, whether the final need be replayed and whether any disciplinary action needed to be taken.
The two teams drew 1-1 in the first leg of the final in Casablanca and Esperance were 1-0 up in the return match on May 31 when Wydad had the ball in the net for what they thought was a 59th minute equaliser.
But the referee ruled it offside and turned down animated appeals to consult VAR because the system was not working.
Wydad refused to continue, with arguments on the pitch and on the touchline continuing for some two hours before the game was called off and Esperance awarded the trophy.
Five days later CAF’s executive committee said the second leg must be replayed on neutral territory, amid accusations of pandering to the Moroccans who have a strong sway at the top of African football’s governing body.
Esperance appealed to CAS to be reinstated as champions after Wydad’s walk off while the Moroccans argued they should be declared champions or, alternatively, both legs annulled, and single replay ordered.
CAS said they rejected Wydad’s contentions, but Esperance’s argument would need to be considered by CAF.