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CAF Appeals board upholds Esperance victory, reject Wydad appeal

The Confederation of Africa (CAF) Appeals board has today (Sunday September, 15th) rejected the appeal by Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca, Upholding the decision of the CAF Disciplinary board to declare Tunisian side Tunis de Esperance champions of the Champions league.

On 31st May 2019, Wydad players refused to continue with play after an issue with VAR. Esperance were initially announced winners, though CAF executive committee later ruled thatthe second leg must be replayed in a neutral venue to decide the champions.

However, the decision to order a replay was thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who told the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to refer the case to its proper disciplinary structures for a decision.

Wydad later presented a statement to CAS on June 14th, with the club requesting that the decision of the Executive committee be cancelled and Wydad be declared winners of the match. Esperance also submitted a counter appeal indicating that the CAF executive committee did not have the competence to make such a decision and therefore asked the annulment of the decision.

On 31st July, CAS rendered a decision and considered that the CAF executive committee was not competent to order that the final be replayed and decided to annul the contested decision.

It was then left up to the competent bodies of CAF to look into the incidents that occurred at the Rades stadium on May 31st, 2-19, and take an appropriate decision and consequently decide if the 2019 champions league final be replayed or not.

The case was submitted to the CAF disciplinary Board for its meeting held in CAF HQ on August 7th 2019.

The CAF disciplinary board decided that Wydad is the of loser the return leg by forfeiture and imposed a fine of USD 20,000 on the club for the abandonment of the match and a further sanction of 15,000 was also imposed on the club for improper conduct by their fans.

Wydad Casablanca appealed against the decision rendered by the CAF Disciplinary board and this appeal was submitted to the CAF Appeals board for examination during its September 15th meeting in Cairo, Egypt.

Wydad Casablanca players walk off the pitch in the contest during their CAF Champions final against Esperance | CAF media

At its meeting at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, the Board cited the following for their decision;

The Board underlined the fact that the absence of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has no legal effects whatsoever and that its sole purpose is to aid the referee to take the correct decision.

That the referee is vested with the power to have the final decision on the field of play since the start of the game, and that his decision is not up to review by the Appeals Board.

The match officials’ reports were very clear that the Wydad Athletic Club’s players refused to resume the match even after several attempts conducted by the referee, to the point that the referee waited almost 90 minutes before he whistled the end of the match.

Therefore, the Appeals Board confirms that the match was forfeited by Wydad Athletic Club because their players refused to resume the match.

The board highlighted the fact that the present appeal submitted by Wydad is submitted against the decision rendered by CAF Disciplinary board on the 7th of August 2019 which concerns the forfeit of the match but not the financial sanction imposed on Wydad which remains undisputed to this day.

As to Wydad’s request for the Appeals board to sanction Esperance, the board took note that the aforementioned request was already addressed by the disciplinary board and that Esperance were effectively sanctioned for the incidents that took place in the second leg match. The board resolved that a consideration for this request would be deemed as a double sanction on Esperance which would contradict the principle of Non Bis in idem.

The Appeals board therefore decided that

The Appeal of Wydad is admissible in law;

The Appeal of Wydad is rejected in substance;

The decision of CAF Disciplinary board rendered on 7th August 2019 is hereby upheld and confirmed.

According to Article 48 par.3 of CAF statutes, this decision may be appealed against before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). However, the statement of appeal must be sent to the CAS directly within 10 days of receipt of notification of the decision.

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