Wydad rejects CAF’s decision affirming Esperance as Champions League winner
Moroccan club, Wydad Casablanca have said it will return to the Court of Arbitration (Cas) for Sport over May’s African Champions League final result, reports BBC.
It comes after Sunday’s meeting of the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) Appeal Board, who ruled that Tunisia’s Esperance won the title in May.
Wydad’s president, Said Naciri confirmed yesterday, as he was re-elected as the president of the Moroccan Football League, that they would go to Cas as permitted by the Caf statutes.
“We will defend our rights until the end. For two months we have been fighting this “oppression”. Esperance doesn’t deserve to win the cup in the way we witnessed in Rades,” he told BBC Sport.
“Our next step is to take the case back to CAS to seek fairness.”
The second leg of the May’s Champions League final ended in controversy as Wydad Casablanca refused to continue playing after a row over the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) system.
Play was halted when VAR was unavailable to judge a disallowed equaliser.
VAR had been set up on the side of the pitch, but the players had not been told it was not working, although officials were aware.
The referee then awarded the victory to three-time former champions, Esperance.
The Tunisian side were leading 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) in the final, which was played over two legs. VAR had been used in previous week’s first leg.
But in the second leg, Walid El Karti’s header for Wydad was disallowed for an infringement. Both sides then lodged complaints with Cas following an initial ruling from Caf that the second leg should be replayed.
The court’s first ruling in August said that Caf’s executive committee “did not have jurisdiction” to order that the final be replayed.
Following that decision from Cas the disciplinary committee at Caf ruled Esperance to be the winners of the African Champions League.
Wydad then lodged a further case with Caf and its Appeal Board, which on Sunday rejected the Moroccan club’s request.
“…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…,” the Caf Appeal Board decision explained.
“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 Appeal 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.
“The Appeal Board has noted that the stoppage of almost 90 minutes was due to the Wydad Athletic Club’s players’ failure to resume the match, the players were then instructed to resume play by the referee who has seen his attempts fail to no avail.
“Therefore the Appeal Board confirms that the match was forfeited by Wydad Athletic Club because their players refused to resume the match.”
The Appeal Board added that Caf’s own statutes allow for a case to be lodged directly with Cas before September 25.