More Confusion as CAF Rejects CAS Ruling on Champions League

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The end is yet to come on the controversial 2019 CAF Champions League final match involving Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco and Espérance Sportive de Tunis of Tunisia. CAF has decided to appeal the decision of the Court of Arbitration on Sports.

On Wednesday, CAS ruled in favour of the Tunisian club, which had been originally awarded the trophy following the refusal of Wydad to continue with the return leg match on account of a disputed goal.

The Emergency Committee of CAF, meeting on the sidelines of FIFA Congress in Paris in June ruled that the final match be replayed in a neutral ground after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Both Wydad and Esperance filled different appeals at CAS, which upheld that of Esperance and thus annulled the decision of the CAF Executive Committee.

CAF in a statement on Thursday morning insisted that CAS decision was “only for procedural reasons. However, CAF has yet to receive the summarized decision.”

According to CAF, the CAS Panel has decided to refer the case to the competent CAF bodies to apply the appropriate disciplinary sanctions, if any, and accordingly decide whether the second leg of the CAF Champions League 2018/19 season shall be replayed or not.

“In this regard, CAF announces that the competent bodies will meet shortly to decide on the case and details will be communicated in due course.”

Tunisia’s Esperance and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca lodged appeals after the CAF Executive Committee decided to replay the second leg – both felt they should be awarded the win.

Wydad had a goal disallowed and left the pitch because VAR was not working.

Esperance were winning 2-1 on aggregate and declared champions initially.

The home side were handed the trophy and winners’ medals after a two-hour delay on 1 June, but were told to return them days later after CAF ordered a replay on neutral territory, citing “unsafe conditions”.

Both clubs think they should be named champions and given the prize money. Wydad’s request was rejected by CAS, with Esperance’s appeal to be investigated at a later date.

Play in the second leg was halted after Wydad thought they had equalised on 59 minutes through Walid El Karti’s header but it was disallowed for an infringement.

The video assistant referee system was visible on the side of the pitch but the players had not been told it was not in use because of a malfunction.

After appeals by both clubs, CAS ruled that CAF’s executive committee “did not have jurisdiction” to order that the final be replayed.

It has ordered “competent CAF authorities to review the incidents”, specifically to refer the case to its proper disciplinary structures for a decision on whether the game will be replayed or not.