Could a CAS appeal delegitimise the Confederation Cup final?

Could a CAS appeal delegitimise the Confederation Cup final?
Trophy GV during the CAF Confederation Cup ©Weam MostafaBackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday May 07, 2024. 12:00

The CAF Confederation Cup final is scheduled to have its first leg match between hosts RS Berkane and Zamalek held in Morocco this coming Sunday, 12 May.

However, there is a cloud hanging over this fixture (and the scheduled return leg in Egypt the following Sunday) in regards to a controversy between Berkane and their semifinal opponents, USM Alger.

The scheduled semifinal matches on April 21 and 28 between the teams were both cancelled in the wake of Berkane having their playing kit confiscated by Algerian immigration authorities ahead of the first leg.

The Berkane kit displayed a map showing a disputed area between Algeria and Morocco, and were thus considered to be politically provocative by Algerian authorities.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) responded by awarding the first leg 3-0 in favour of Berkane, and repeated the action for the second leg when USMA refused to take to the pitch, despite having travelled to Morocco.

USMA and the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) last week filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against CAF, arguing that “the RS Berkane shirt, which the Appellants consider presents a political message, contravenes the laws of the game, CAF regulations and FIFA rules”.

Given that this has become a complicated legal matter, in which “the parties are currently exchanging written submissions and the arbitral panel that will be decide the matter is being appointed,” it is fair to assume that no resolution will be reached before Sunday, when the first leg of the Confederation Cup will be held at Stade Municipal de Berkane.

This means that Berkane and Zamalek will head into their two-legged clash with the possibility that it could be rendered null and void at a later date, as decided by lawyers and administrators in Switzerland.

The idea that an athletic competition’s ultimate outcome could be determined by those in suits and ties rather than the players in kit and football boots is a hard one to fathom for all involved, but that is the situation the parties find themselves in.

For now, we can look forward to what should be a tense encounter between the Orange Boys and the White Knights, but with the lingering thought that it could all be delegitimised by a stroke of a pen at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Source: CAS Media Release

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