CAF Champions League could have another twist as Wydad plan to fight their case

Wydad soccer players refuse to continue playing after the Video assistant referee (VAR) system did not work and the match was interrupted during the second leg of CAF champion league final 2019 soccer match between Tunisia's Esperance sportive de Tunis and Morocco's Wydad Athletic Club at the Olympic stadium in Rades, Tunisia, 31 May 2019.  EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA

Wydad soccer players refuse to continue playing after the Video assistant referee (VAR) system did not work and the match was interrupted during the second leg of CAF champion league final 2019 soccer match between Tunisia's Esperance sportive de Tunis and Morocco's Wydad Athletic Club at the Olympic stadium in Rades, Tunisia, 31 May 2019. EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA

Wydad Casablanca are set to leave no stone unturned in their quest to get a fair deal following Friday’s VAR debacle in the second-leg of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League final.

In an unprecedented event in football, the match was effectively ended due to a failure of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which has left CAF president Ahmad Ahmad admitting to being ‘so frightened after what happened’.

The Moroccan side, who had drawn the first leg of the final 1-1 at home against Esperance the previous weekend, found themselves 1-0 down in the second leg in Rades, Tunisia after Youcef Belaili scored four minutes before halftime.

Just before the hour mark, Wydad thought they had levelled the aggregate tie up at 2-2 when Walid El Karti netted with a header, only to have it ruled off-sides.

After the Wydad players protested to the Gambian referee Bakary Gassama, they were told that the VAR system had broken down before the game.

With the visiting players unwilling to continue, the match was delayed by over 90 minutes before the referee awarded the victory to the home club.

That’s unlikely, however, to be the end of the story, with CAF set to meet in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

CAF boss Ahmad has already been quoted as empathising with the Casablanca team’s plight.

“If somebody did not see [Wydad’s] goal as legitimate, he then should change his hobby and stop watching football,” Ahmad reportedly told Moroccan sports news publication Almountakhab.

”The goal was legitimate and the Video Assistant Referee is not necessary to prove that. Everything has been unfair towards Wydad.

“We have had an agreement with a company to supply VAR; however, they informed us they wouldn’t be able to provide it for technical reasons just before the game. I have no answers to give you. I am even so frightened after what happened.”

Wydad president Said Naciri has, meanwhile, promised that his club will fight the matter all the way.

“Wydad was the victim of a scandal on Friday which has destroyed all that had been done to develop football in Africa,” he told BBC Sport.

“We are asking the Confederation of African Football to investigate what happened in Friday’s game. We are calling for a fair investigation to save the image of football in Africa which was terribly tarnished.”

“We didn’t leave the pitch. We were waiting for the referee’s decision to check the VAR or use any camera. I can’t understand why the referee was waiting for instructions from other people to take his decision.

“We will defend our right by all means. We will go to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), giving them all the details and legal documents to defend our right.”

 

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