Tunisian giants, Esperance, will today know if their ‘victory’ over Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco on May 31 ‘controversial’ CAF Champions League final will be upheld or upturned by the Appeals Board led by Nigeria’s Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN).
Mustapha – a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is the president of CAF Appeals Board.
Wydad had ‘walked out of the pitch in the final of the 2019 CAF Champions League against Esperance on May 31 in Rades after their goal was chalked off amidst a non functional Video Assistant Referee, (VAR).
If upheld, the goal would have tied the return leg match 1-1 on the night and Wydad felt hard done by the development.
Newsmen understand that the Disciplinary Committee of CAF headed by Raymond Hack, a former CEO of South Africa Football Association (SAFA), had on August 7 found Wydad guilty of breaching CAF Champions League rules by staging a walkout in the match over the disallowed goal.
The Moroccan outfit were equally handed a $20,000 fine by the Disciplinary Committee.
“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 decided, hinging their decision on the application of Paragraph 17 Section, 11 of CAF 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.”
Now, it has emerged that a 95-page document has been prepared for the consideration of the Appeals Board when it sits on today (Sunday) September 15.
The pendency of this dispute is seen majorly as reason Esperance have been unable to collect their Champions League winners’ cheque of $2.5 million, as CAF said that it would not make the payout until a “final judicial verdict” had been reached on the May 31 final by CAF’s legal bodies.
CAF have thus drawn a new format for the Champions League final with the 2020 edition – and all subsequent finals, as a result of what happened in Rades, will be a single game at a neutral venue.