Rabat – Said Naciri, the president of Wydad Atheltic Club (WAC) has commented again on the injustice that his football team experienced last Friday, May 31 in Tunisia against Esperance Tunis.
The chairman of the club condemned the absence of video assistant referee technology (VAR) in the second leg final of the CAF-sponsored Champions League, knowing that it is a key element in the competition.
On Friday, a referee refused a legitimate goal for Wydad, angering Moroccan football fans and observers, who strongly argued that the decision of the referee was unjust.
When Wydad players put pressure on the referee staff to use the VAR, the referees said that the technology was unavailable due to technical issues.
The statement over VAR received a backlash, with sports commentators arguing that such issue should have been solved before the game as VAR is necessary for the competition.
As a result, Wydadi players refused to finish the game due to the lack of “professionalism” and no concrete reason why the VAR was not functional in an important game.
The head of WAC, Naciri, condemned the poor refereeing in the game on Moroccan television channel Medi1 TV.
The president said, “all we asked for is the application of the principle of equal opportunities and fair competition.”
He added that CAF senior members attempted to convince him and his players to finish the game, promising that WAC would be granted the African Champions League title next year, instead.
“All of them, without exception, were asking us to continue the game and next year’s title would be yours,” revealed Naciri.
Naciri and his footballers turned down the offer.
Afterward, Naciri decided to take the case to high sports authorities to condemn corruption inside CAF.
“This is unfair and we will take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and FIFA,” he said.
He also called the outrageous scandal a disgrace for CAF.
“It is not allowed to start a match when VAR football system is not working,” said Naciri who was quoted by state-owned news agency Maghreb Arab Press.
Naciri’s statement over the absence of VAR is supported by the Champions League regulations.
Paragraph 15 of Article 2 in the regulations stipulates that “If it is established that the absence of the designated referees was the fault of the host association, the host team shall be declared loser by 2 to zero and shall be eliminated from the competition, regardless of the result obtained on the field.”
This provision of the regulations suggests that Esperance Tunis’ win is illegitimate in the absence of VAR, one of the most important elements in the competition.
Wydad has not only been deprived of its goal. The club’s fans were also attacked and assaulted when they arrived in Tunisia to cheer-on their team.
Angry over the poor refereeing and the CAF offer, Naciri argued that Wydad did not negotiate with CAF members.
“We have asked for the application of the principle of equal opportunities and fair competition, and since the first leg was played with the VAR, then the 2nd leg must also be with the VAR, and if there was an issue, we must be informed before the game,” said Naciri on the TV show.
Naciri reiterated that the WAC players did not retreat from the game, which is the motive for CAF declaring Esperance Sportive de Tunis (ES Tunis) as the 2019 African Champions League winner.
The WAC president has stated that he will explore all options in bringing justice to his team.
Overwhelmed by what happened on Friday’s game, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad sided with Wydad, emphasizing that their goal was legitimate without VAR.
Ahmad Ahmad also speculated that what has been happening might be a “conspiracy” against him.
He told Morocco’s Al Mountakhab newspaper that he was personally “surprised and angry against all the issues that happened so fast. It appears that there has been something going down against me.”
Ahmad also called for an emergency meeting of the CAF Executive Committee, which he will chair on Tuesday in Paris to discuss the EST-WAC issues.
The emergency meeting will take place on the sidelines of the 69th FIFA Congress in Paris with the attendance of FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
It is expected that the FRMF President; Fouzi Lekjaa, and WAC president, Said Naciri, will take part in the reunion.
Also among the delegation is FRMF vice president, Hamza Hajoui, the advisor of Fouzi Lekjaa and director of communication within FRMF, Mohamed Makrouf, and FRMF’s secretary general.
Morocco World News contacted FIFA to inquire whether they received a complaint from Morocco’s Royal Football Federation. FIFA, however, has yet to respond.