Morocco’s Wydad loses to Tunisian club because of VAR debacle

Casablanca’s Wydad Athletic Club lost to Tunisia’s Esperance after VAR was unable to judge equalizer. The tricky situation will be at the heart of a Confederation of African Football emergency meeting next week.

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Wydad club. / Ph. DR

Anger was all over the place, Friday, after Casablanca’s red team Wydad Athletic Club lost to Tunisian rival Esperance after VAR was unable to judge equalizer. The situation pushed the President of the Confederation of African Football Ahmed Ahmed to convene an emergency committee, Tuesday June 4, to consider the «issues that marked the Wydad vs. Esperance game».

In a press release, published earlier on Saturday, CAF explained that the decision comes «after what happened during the second part of the game» at Rades stadium in Tunis.

While the Tunisian team scored a goal in the first half of the game, the Reds managed to score an equalizer at the 65th minute of the match. The equalizer was not accepted by Gambian referee Bakay Gassama who thought that the Moroccan player might have fouled an opponent with his shoulder.

Protesting the referee’s decision, Wydad players demanded that he checks with VAR, which was not working.

Chaos because of VAR

Wydad players refused to resume playing after they were told that VAR was unavailable. The situation forced the two clubs’ presidents to go to the field alongside CAF president Ahmed Ahmed to convince the players into going back to playing. The match was interrupted for several minutes and was finally ended by the referee, allowing Esperance to win the title.

Interviewed by Medi1 TV, the president of Wydad Athletic Club Said Naciri said that the VAR team said that the «sequence (in question) has been removed, knowing that all TV channels in the world filmed this goal». «We will be seeking CAF’s support through official channels», he added.

«We will be following legal procedures to get our rights back, because what happened was a humiliation to Wydad and to African football. We are in 2019 and the right to fair arbitration is a must».

Said Naciri

Wydad challenges an «arbitration scandal»

«We have accepted having a goal refused in the first part, telling ourselves that we will catch up in the second one (…) but our players have another opinion», Naciri said, criticizing «injustice» and the bad intentions out there that targeted Wydad during the two games. «We are not keeping quiet», he insisted.

On Saturday, the president of Wydad announced that the club will seek the help of FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) about this «scandal». «It is forbidden to start a match when the VAR does not work», he insisted.

For the record, CAF announced a six-month suspension for Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha, who officiated the first leg of the African Champions League final between Wydad Casablanca (WAC) and Esperance de Tunis (ETS) (1-1) that took place on 24 May at the Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium in Rabat.

«The Referees' Committee has decided to suspend Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha for six months for poor performance in the first leg of the Champions League final between WAC and EST», CAF said Tuesday in a statement.

After this match, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) sent a letter of protest to CAF against Grisha's officiating, who refused Wydad a goal during the additional time in the first half (45th+1) and then failed to grant the Moroccan club a penalty kick in the 56th minute.

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