By El Baz Abdessamad
Rabat – Bouchamaoui is one of the most important businessmen in Tunisia, whose intervention in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League between El Ahly and Esperance Tunis has sparked praise from Tunisians.
Tarek Bouchamaoui was instrumental in the sanctions against El Ahly, who paid $20,000 in fines, and the suspension of the Moroccan striker Walid Azaro for two games.
The game also resulted in the suspension of the Algerian referee Mehdi Abid Charef by the CAF.
The match ended with a 3-1 victory at the Borg el Arab stadium for the “Red” team.
Referee scandals seem to plague the African League. Following the first leg between Wydad Athletic Club and Esperance de Tunis on May 24, the CAF referee committee decided to suspend the game’s referee, Gehad Grisha, for 6 months due to his poor refereeing performance.
Tensions rose between the two teams, especially after the events in Rades, Tunisia on May 31, which saw the Tunisian team proclaimed the winner of the African League due to supposed technical problems with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system.
After Walid El Katri scored for the Casablanca team in the 59th minute, the referee wrongfully ruled the goal out for outside. The players then demanded the referee consult the VAR system, however, due to technical issues, the system was not working, which complicated the game even further.
The game was suspended for an hour before the referee, Bakary Gassama, blew the whistle handing the victory to the Tunisian team.
Days after the controversial match, CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, has come out and said: “If somebody did not see WAC’s goal as legitimate, he then should change his hobby and to stop watching football.”
He also added that “the goal was legitimate and the Video Assistant Referee is not necessary to prove that.”
For Moroccan teams and fans alike, this is a case of deja-vu. Tunisian members of the CAF committee have long been known to influence football games in favor of their national teams.
The former president of the Esperance, Slim Chiboub, admitted that they “ do influence” CAF decisions, and “have always” done so.
Who is Bouchamaoui?
Bouchamaoui was born in Buscema, Tunisia in 1966. He received his Ph.D. in the Faculty of Engineering and studied Business Administration. He is also proficient in three languages: English, French, and German.
His grandfather, Ahmad Bouchamaoui, founded an engineering company called the Hedi Bouchamaoui Group (HBG). Since then, the family company has been making significant investments in a variety of sectors and “has turned the Group into a portfolio company operating in Automotive Distribution, Agriculture, Real Estate Development, Specialized Distribution, Financial Services, and other participation,” according to the company’s website.
Tarek Bouchamaoui, an engineer by trade, is also a member of CAF’s Executive Committee and a member of the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA).
Bouchamaoui also chaired the Committee of referees in the Confederation of African Football from 2011 to 2013.
In 2017, Bouchamaoui became a member of the FIFA board of the Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries. He was also involved in CAF’s Marketing & TV Committee and the Organising Committees for Management of the CAF Club Licensing System and the Interclub Competitions.