Esperance keep CAF Champions League title but president Meddeb fined over safety threats

By Osasu Obayiuwana

August 7 – CAF’s Disciplinary Committee (DC) have confirmed that Tunisian club Esperance remain the 2019 African champions, after several weeks of controversy, following the abandonment of the May 31 Champions League final in Tunis, between them and Wydad Athletic Club (WAC) of Morocco.

In the DC’s decision taken on Wednesday in Cairo, chaired by South African Raymond Hack, WAC was considered to have lost the second leg of the final, and the entire tie, after it abandoned the game, in protest against their goal that was disallowed.

“Wydad is considered to have lost the game in the final’s 2nd leg, [and] a fine of $20,000 is imposed on the club for the abandonment of the match,” the Disciplinary Committee said.

The DC’s decision is based on the application of Paragraph 17 Section 11 of CAF’s Champions League rules, which states that: “If for any reason whatsoever, a team withdraws from the competition or does not report for a match – except in case of force majeure accepted by the Organising Committee or if it refuses to play or leaves the ground before the regular end of the match without the permission of the referee, it shall be considered loser and shall be eliminated from the competition.”

The CAF DC also imposed an additional fine of $15,000 on WAC, due to the use of flares by their supporters, which reduced visibility for the players on the pitch and made it difficult for match officials to make accurate calls.

But the Tunisians, whilst retaining the title, did not go scot free. Mohamed Meddeb, Esperance President, was fined $20,000 “for his unsporting behaviour against the President of CAF,” Ahmad Ahmad.

In a conversation this reporter had with the CAF President, at the recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Ahmad said Meddeb threatened his safety at the Rades Stadium, during the period that the match was stopped, before the game was finally declared abandoned.

“The President of Esperance clearly used menacing words against me,” Ahmad said in Cairo. “But he tried to deny using such words afterwards.”

In addition to the $20,000 fine to be paid by the club president, Esperance will pay an additional $50,000 for “the use of smoke and projectiles and the unsporting behaviour of its supporters,” the Disciplinary Committee said.

A suspended sentence, of playing their next two CAF club games behind closed doors, was also imposed on the 2019 Champions League winners. But this particular sanction will be suspended for one year, as long as they are of good behaviour for the next 12 months.

A source within the CAF Disciplinary Committee told Insideworldfootball that their decision was primarily based on the match report of Gambian Referee Papa Bakary Gassama, who was in charge of the final, although testimony was also taken from both clubs at CAF headquarters in Cairo.

Contact the writer if this story, Osasu Obayiuwana, at moc.l1580242484labto1580242484ofdlr1580242484owedi1580242484sni@t1580242484catno1580242484c1580242484