CAS to hold hearing on 2019 CAF Champions League Final

The Court of Arbitration for Sports will on May 29 deliberate on the feud between Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca and Tunisia’s Esperance
Esperance de Tunis striker Anis Badri (C) vies with Morocco Wydad players Ayoub El Amloud (L) and Comara Cheuck Ibrahim (R) 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 by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) will on May 29 deliberate on the feud between Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca and Tunisia’s Esperance over the 2019 CAF Champions League final.

The Moroccan club had dragged the Tunisians and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to the Lausanne-based court after the second leg of the final was abandoned in controversy in the 58th minute.

Wydad had refused to continue playing following a row over the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) system. Play was halted when VAR was unavailable to judge a disallowed equalizer. VAR had been set up on the side of the pitch, but the players were reportedly unaware it was not working, while officials were aware. The referee had awarded the victory to three-time former champions Esperance.

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The Tunisian side were leading 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) in the second leg and VAR had been used in the first leg in Morocco.

But in the second leg in Rades, Walid El Karti’s header for Wydad was disallowed for an infringement. Both sides lodged complaints with CAS following an initial ruling from CAF that the second leg should be replayed.

The court’s first ruling in August 2019 said that CAF’s executive committee “did not have jurisdiction” to order that the final be replayed. Following that decision, the disciplinary committee of CAF declared Esperance winners of the 2018/19 CAF Champions League.

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Wydad then lodged a further case with CAF and its Appeal Board, which on 15 September rejected the Moroccan club’s request.

Wydad subsequently filed new evidence and documents with CAS against CAF and Esperance. A ruling was initially expected in March but CAS banned all in-person hearings due to the coronavirus crisis while Switzerland’s borders have been closed and strictly controlled since March 13.

The hearing will now be conducted via video conference.

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