Apologies and recriminations after CAF Champions League final ends in VAR chaos
The Confederation of African Football is to hold an emergency executive meeting on Tuesday to address the controversial ending to last Friday’s second leg of the CAF Champions League final, the continent’s top clubs competition, which was marred by the unavailability of the video assistant referee system.
The match in Rades in Tunisia was abandoned after away team Wydad Casablanca refused to play on against Tunisia’s ES Tunis as VAR was not in place, and therefore could not be used to judge a disallowed equaliser.
Defending champions ES Tunis, which were leading 1-0 at the time, were duly awarded the title by an aggregate score of 2-1, but only after the Wydad players engaged in protracted protests to the referee, and CAF president Ahmad Ahmad spent almost 30 minutes in discussions with officials in an attempt to get the game restarted.
Hawk-Eye, the UK-based technology company that was to have provided the VAR system, has apologised to CAF after stating that it was unable to ship the necessary equipment from Riyadh to Tunis in time for the match, and a back-up plan fell through because of a baggage handling error.
In a brief statement on Sunday, CAF said of tomorrow’s meeting: “The agenda to be discussed will be the regulatory solutions regarding this match.”
Wydad could now face a two-year ban from the Champions League.
However, the club's president Said Naciri has told BBC Sport that the CAF should conduct "a fair investigation to save the image of football in Africa which was terribly tarnished," while the FRMF, the Moroccan football federation, has said it will be filing a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the absence of VAR at the final.
The first leg, which ended in a 1-1 draw, had also been a contentious affair, with Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha subsequently suspended for six months following a complaint from the FRMF. CAF said the ban was imposed for “poor performance.”
VAR made its international debut at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and now features in most of the major European leagues and the Uefa Champions League.
It is set to be used for the first time in a Uefa national team competition at this week’s Nations League finals in Portugal.