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Morocco's Wydad 'didn't withdraw' from Champions league final, will go to FIFA: Club head

Ahram Online , Saturday 1 Jun 2019
CAF
Wydad players ask the referee Gambian Bakary Papa Gassama (C) to check the goal, which was denied by the linesman before finding out the Video assistant referee (VAR) system did not work and the match was interrupted during the 2nd leg of CAF champion league final 2019 football match between Tunisia's Esperance sportive de Tunis and Morocco's Wydad Athletic Club at the Olympic stadium in Rades on May 31, 2019 (Photo: AFP)
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Morocco's Wydad Casablanca did not withdraw from Saturday's African Champions League final against Tunisia's Esperance, although the referee ruled that they had, according to club president Saeed El-Nasrie, who has vowed to go to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the matter.

The match was abandoned after Wydad players walked off to protest a disallowed goal that was not referred to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). After a stoppage of around 90 minutes, home side Esperance were declared the winners of Africa's top club competition by the referee.

"The match stopped for more than 35 minutes. How come the match starts on 31 May and ends on 1 June?" El-Nasrie told Moroccan radio station IFM after the match.

Esperance led 1-0 in the final second-leg in Rades through a first-half goal from Youcef Belaili before Walid El Karti levelled the aggregate score with a header at 59 minutes, only to be denied by the linesman's offside flag.

Television replays showed that El Karti was clearly onside but Gambian referee Bakary Gassama did not check a video replay, although the VAR technology was due to be introduced in the final.

However, it turned out that VAR was not working due to a malfunction.

"We didn't withdraw from the match as we wanted to continue the game but with the existence of VAR technology," the Wydad president explained.

CAF president Ahmad Ahmad stepped onto the pitch and spent almost 30 minutes in discussions with officials in a futile effort to get the game restarted.

With Wydad refusing to resume play unless VAR was checked, Gasama blew his final whistle and Esperance celebrated wildly on the pitch. 

"We will take all the legal actions to get our rights after this injustice. We will lodge complaints to FIFA and CAS. CAF is the only responsible for what happened in the match," El-Nasrie concluded.

In a statement on Saturday, CAF said they had called a meeting of their executive committee on Tuesday to discuss the incident.

Controversy also engulfed the first leg, which ended with a 1-1 draw and Wydad protesting against Egyptian referee Gehad Greisha's decision to disallow a goal by them due to a handball in the build-up. Greisha was suspended for six months by African governing body CAF for what it called his "poor performance."

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