Last Update 18:47
Thursday, 29 July 2021

Tunisia's Esperance crowned African champions as Wydad walk off after VAR controversy

Ahram Online , Saturday 1 Jun 2019
Ghailene Chaalali (L) of Esperance Tunis holds off Walid el Karti of Wydad Casablanca during the first leg of the 2019 CAF Champions League final in Rabat (AFP)

Tunisia's Esperance were crowned African champions for the second straight season after opponents Wydad Casablanca walked off in protest at a disallowed goal that was not referred to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

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 on 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 reply 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. 

CAF president Ahmad Ahmad stepped onto the pitch and was seen consulting with a host of officials as the game was halted for around 90 minutes. With Wydad refusing to resume play unless VAR was checked, Gasama blew his final whistle and Esperance celebrated wildly on the pitch. 

"We were told by the referee before the game that there won't be VAR. It seems Wydad's captain did not understand French," Tunisia skipper Khalil Chemmam told beIN Sports after the match was called off. 

Controversy also engulfed the first leg, with Wydad protesting against Egyptian referee's Gehad Greisha's decision to disallow a goal for 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."

Esperance took their tally to four Champions League triumphs. They will face Egyptian side and Confederation Cup winners Zamalek in the African Super Cup in August.  

Short link:



© 2010 Ahram Online.