VAR controversy causes chaos in African Champions League final, Esperance awarded win

By Owolabi Abiola, AIPS MEMBER

The CAF Champions League final descended into chaos after a controversial VAR decision..

The African Champs League final saw football’s greatest VAR farce.

➡ Legitimate equaliser ruled out.
➡ No review… VAR is broken!
➡ Team refuses to continue
➡ CAF president on field to discuss
➡ Over an HOUR later… ES Tunis crowned champions.

The 60,000 spectators  inside the beautiful Olympic Stade de Rades in Tunis were set and filled with enthutiasm and support. It was  a fight to finish between hosts Esperance of Tunis and Wydad of Casablanca. An intense broiling first leg ended 1-1 and  Gambia referee Gadzama was at his full wits end to handle a volatile and high tempered final signaling the climax of club football in the continent. It was supposed to be  a night for the best of African football and anyone who cares for the game had high hopes.

Esperance takes the lead in a superb strike and now lead 2-1 on aggregate. Ben Ali finds the quality finish of a master in the 41st minute.

But in the second half, Walid El Karti’s header for Wydad was disallowed for an infringement.Where is the offiside? controversy of a possible equaliser stalls the final in the 60th minute, Players of WAC calling for VAR and unpleasant scenes start to build up.Wydad players protested to the Gambian referee, demanding VAR be used, and Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Ahmad Ahmad spent almost 30 minutes in discussions with officials in a bid to get the game restarted.Referee Gassama needed to find a solution and only VAR could have helped. Replays show a good goal, possible stalemate in Rades.

Stalemate in CAF Champions League final of finals. Not a good story or image. Africa must make progress, WAC players in protest mood. This game was bound to spark varied emotions and the first leg imbroglio was a tell tale sign, test for CAF  and its officials.This is ugly, a final stalemated by players protesting a goal not allowed. Africa”s showpiece event in tatters..bad for the sponsors, spectators and stakeholders. When last was a final of a continental competition abandoned. Esperance are waiting for the clock to be declared champions whilst WAC of Morocco persist in their protest . It can only happen in Africa, a contentious decision leading to a boycott.

Wydad players refused to play after the controversial ruling to not award them an equaliser
Plastic bottles containing liquid were also flung toward the Wydad players and coaches as tempers flared

Gassama should have opted for VAR to keep his neutrality. Replays showed a good goal and it is the stimulant for WAC to protest and evidently abandon the game. Now the crowd and players of Esperance begin the final cheer to lift the trophy In a game abandoned in the 61st minute. Surely a big joke on African football.

Esperance were awarded the victory after a lengthy delay

A front page final now turned to a farce..what a huge joke of winning Africa’s most prestigious and money spinning Champions league. Such a miserable and painful advert for a final that had all the ingredients of a classic. WAC may never play in the continent in the next three or five years except perhaps Africa’s paddy paddy politics hold sway. Not a good way for president Ahmad to confront his other continental colleagues in Paris next week. But it is not an African problem only. The South America Champions league final had to be settled in Europe.

CAF president Ahmad talking to the referees…it had to come to that…the comedy of a final

The VAR Failure And The Final : ”Hawk-Eye had arranged with a third party for one set of VAR Equipment to be shipped from Riyadh to Tunis. The third party was responsible for exporting the equipment and shipping. We were informed on 23rd May that this equipment had been picked up and were provided with a draft AWB and informed that the kit was due to leave Riydah on Monday 27th. On Wednesday 29th May, upon waiting for the equipment to arrive into customs at Tunis, we were told this kit was still in Riyadh and would not arrive into Tunis on 30th May.

The players were reportedly not informed that the video assistant referee system (VAR) was not working

Upon news that the Riyadh shipment would not arrive into Tunis on the 30th May, Hawk-Eye immediately implemented a backup solution which would fly with myself on Emirates flight EK747 and hand delivered to the stadium on the morning of the 31st. This solution would have ensured the technology test and approval would take place. Unfortunately, Emirates made a baggage handling error and only 2 of 3 cases of equipment arrive in Tunis.
A further back up solution of a server being brought from the UEFA Champions League Final in Madrid is currently underway and we expect this server to arrive in the hours before KO.
Hawk-Eye makes every effort to deliver VAR services to CAF flawlessly. We are extremely disappointed that these issues have occurred. We would like to thank CAF for their ongoing support, and apologise unreservedly for this error.”

Below are pictures of the competition ;

Photos by Fliss Mohammed

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