Referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn shows a yellow card for Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi during a quarter final game of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Equatorial Guinea (Photo: Reuters)
The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has rejected a request made by Tunisia to overturn the decision of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that threatens to suspend the Carthage Eagles from the 2017 African Cup of Nations.
The decision to suspend the team would be made if they do not comply with the directives imposed on them following their exit from the 2015 Nations Cup in February.
"After having considered the Tunisian Football Federation's (FTF) request and the observations of the CAF, the CAS issued an order rejecting the request for a stay, considering that, at this stage, the FTF is not suffering from irreparable damage given that the participation of the national team of Tunisia at the CAN 2017 is, at the moment, not denied," a statement read on the CAS website on Thursday.
The African governing body ordered Tunisia to apologise or provide evidence of the bias they claim CAF and their officials held against them following their 2015 Nations Cup exit. CAF have suspended FTF president Wadie Jary and gave them an ultimatum of until 31 March or they will be suspended from the next African Cup of Nations.
The Tunisians have sparked anger following their controversial quarterfinal elimination against hosts Equatorial Guinea. The latter scored the equaliser deep into injury time from a penalty kick – that was revealed to be a total gaffe by the referee – before scoring the winner 2-1 in extra-time.
Officials and players from Tunisia accused the CAF of favoring the hosts and being biased against them throughout the tournament.
Jary has already announced that he refuses to apologise but if the FTF board decides to he will step down from his position.
Tunisia seems to have few other options available now in light of the latest decision from the world sports top court.