Tunisia′s Esperance declared African Champions League winners after legal battle | News | DW | 07.08.2019
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Tunisia's Esperance declared African Champions League winners after legal battle

The Tunisian outfit were announced as the winners on the night when their opponents, Wydad Casablanca, walked off due to a VAR controversy. The match was initially declared null and void — then that decision was quashed.

Tunisian side Esperance was declared African Champions League winners by the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) disciplinary committee on Wednesday.

The announcement came after the CAF found Esperance's opponents, Moroccan outfit Wydad Casablanca, guilty of abandoning the second leg of the final on May 31.

Last week, the CAF's executive committee came to the conclusion that the match should be replayed at a neutral venue but Wednesday's ruling by the disciplinary board overturns that decision.

Financial penalties

Wydad also received a $20,000 (€17,800) fine for their troubles. The club received an additional fine of $15,000 (€13,400) for the use of flares by supporters.

Esperance were instructed to pay $50,000 (€44,600) for the use of flares and the throwing of projectiles by their fans.

The disciplinary board's decision means Esperance retained their title and the club's secretary general, Farouk Kattou, was ebullient. "Justice has been done. It's a fully deserved title. It's taken two months but finally we have it," he said.

The moment of controversy

The fall-out and subsequent court decisions came about because Moroccan outfit Wydad Casablanca refused to play on after having a 59th-minute goal disallowed in the return leg of the final in Tunis. The Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) system was not working so the referee was unable to check the decision following appeals from the away side.

The VAR machine pitch-side, Tunis, Tunisia

Wyad Casablanca refused to play on when VAR did not work. The side were denied the use of the technology as the system had technical problems

That sparked protests that continued for about 90 minutes before the game was eventually called off in scenes that verged on the farcical, with even the CAF president, Ahmad Ahmad, coming down to the side of the pitch to try and resolve the matter without success.

Following the lengthy delay the match was eventually awarded to Esperance, who celebrated in front of their home fans with the trophy and their winners medals.

Head-butting incident kicked into touch

Meanwhile, the CAF on Tuesday cleared one of its vice presidents of head-butting a referee due to of a lack of evidence.

The African football authority's disciplinary committee said that Fouzi Lekjaa, who is also president of the Moroccan football association, was not guilty of physically assaulting Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa after the final of African football's second-tier club tournament, the Confederation Cup.

RS Berkane of Morocco lost the match in May on penalties to Egyptian side Zamalek after the two-legged tie ended 1-1 on aggregate.

The CAF said there was "insufficient solid and corroborated evidence" to prove Lekjaa's had actually head-butted Weyesa.

The referee made the claim in his report that he was assaulted by Lekjaa after the match.

jsi/msh (AP, AFP, SID, Reuters)

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