Rabat - The Confederation of African Football Executive Committee’s (CAF-FEC) recent disciplinary decisions concerning Morocco and Tunisia pushed us out of our moral comfort zone. The CAF-FEC was blindfolded and went beyond what is appropriate. But nevertheless, the CAF-FEC has raised many questions as to whether or not is it ever morally justified to punish an entire football community of hundreds of thousands of footballers for the actions of relatively few individuals within that community.
Rabat – The Confederation of African Football Executive Committee’s (CAF-FEC) recent disciplinary decisions concerning Morocco and Tunisia pushed us out of our moral comfort zone. The CAF-FEC was blindfolded and went beyond what is appropriate. But nevertheless, the CAF-FEC has raised many questions as to whether or not is it ever morally justified to punish an entire football community of hundreds of thousands of footballers for the actions of relatively few individuals within that community.
The Confederation of African Football Executive Committee fined Morocco and suspended the Moroccan national team from the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. In addition, the CAF-FEC imposed on the Moroccan Royal Federation a fine of 10 million US dollars, as compensation for all material damages suffered by the CAF and other associated parties due to its late withdrawal as hosts of the 2015 Cup of Nations, over fears of a possible outbreak of the Ebola virus, a decision that resulted in the CAF hurriedly naming Equatorial Guinea as the host for the 2015 tournament.
The CAF-FEC also fined Tunisia’s football federation $50,000 in the fallout of the disorderly African Cup of Nations quarterfinal against host Equatorial Guinea for damaging the team’s dressing room at Bata Stadium, banned Tunisia football chief Wadie Jary from participating in any future CAF activities, and ordered Tunisia to send a letter of apology for accusing the CAF of being biased against them, or else they will face expulsion from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
These two cases clearly represent the well-known concept of ‘collective punishment’ by is unfairly imposing a disproportionate penalty on hundreds of thousands of Moroccan and Tunisian footballers and associations who are unquestionably the victims of such excessive disciplinary decisions. This is not the first time that collective punishment has taken place in football. It has been used for decades, and authorities continue to resist honest efforts aimed at finding a better disciplinary system that is balanced and fair to manage the beloved global sporting game.
Not long ago, Sepp Blatter, the current president of FIFA (football’s international governing body), has made it clear that espousing collective punishment in sports is of dubious nature, and he suggested sporting sanctions as an alternative. It is true that he was citing the case of racism and the existing parallel sanctions aimed at countering it, but nevertheless he explicitly said that disproportionate collective punishment is an inadequate instrument of management.
Now, rewinding the footage of Tunisia incident will clearly show a number of officials and Tunisian players chasing the Mauritius referee, Seechum Rajindraprasad, in the quarterfinal, and it will also show their attempt to attack him as security policemen escorted him off the pitch. It is true that Rajindraprasad made a questionable call that helped the host team, Equatorial Guinea, get back in the game, and eventually win it. But, referee mistakes of such magnitude are common, even in the world’s biggest stage, the World Cup. On the other hand, we’ve never witnessed an aggressive reaction similar to the one we saw with Tunisia’s officials and players. This will not do away with the fact that this could be the perfect opportunity not only to contemplating Blatter’s idea of sporting sanctions, but also find a way out of penalizing perpetrators in other possible football scenarios without compromising the rights of others.
To me, suspending from future CAF activities those who chased Referee Rajindraprasad and the officials who questioned the integrity of the CAF or jeopardized its interest from both countries would be the most appropriate punishment.
Further penalties, such as freezing teams’ financial support and deducting points ahead of the start of qualification games for upcoming tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup may be a panacea. To conclude, such controversial cases should prompt FIFA and its associate confederations to sensibly address the incongruity of collective punishment sanctions that are certainly contrary to the fair-play approach in its entirety, and, accordingly, is never morally justified.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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