The Prime Minister’s statement and Nessma TV’s “provocative” story are causing an uproar among Moroccan social media users.
Rabat – Tunisians are unhappy with the decision of the Confederation of African Football to replay the second leg of the Champions League’s final between Wydad of Casablanca and Esperance of Tunis.
The decision was made during an extraordinary meeting of the CAF executive committee in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday.
After more than nine hours of deliberations, CAF executive committee decided to stripe Esperance of Tunis of the Champions League title and to replay the second leg of the final in a neutral field outside of Tunisia.
In addition to the decision to replay the second leg outside of Tunisia, the committee ordered EST to return their medals and their trophy.
The rematch is expected to be played after the African Cup of Nations, scheduled to take place between June 21 and July 19 in Egypt.
Hysterical reaction in Tunisia
CAF decision has caused a hysterical reaction in Tunisia with politicians, former players, and journalists denouncing what they believe is “injustice” against their country.
Tunisian Prime Minister, Youssef Chahed, politicized the event with a Tweet he posted on his Twitter account.
“After the Caf farce: salutation to our army and police, who have been a good example for all the world, and whoever is talking about this should take responsibility for it,” he wrote.
“Salutation to ES Tunis fans, they were great at the last game. We will not give up on ES Tunis’ rights or any Tunisian association’s rights,” he added.
The post did not go unnoticed in Morocco with many Moroccans criticizing the Tunisian official’s involvement in a sports matter that falls out of his purview.
TV Channel provokes Moroccans with Western Sahara
Tunisians’ reaction did not, however, stop at lashing out at CAF President Ahmad Ahmad. A TV channel published a news report supportive of the Polisario Front, a breakaway movement that claims to be the sole representative of the Sahrawis and seeks to establish a state in Western Sahara, in southern Morocco.
In what marks a departure from the TV channel’s editorial line, it published a news story titled “Polisario calls for more pressure on Morocco.”
The news story reports on a letter that Polisario’s representative sent to the head of United Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, Colin Stewart, calling on the UN to pressure Rabat to remove the alleged 7 million mines it planted across Morocco’s defense wall.
“The representative of the Polisario to the United Nations, Mohamed Omar, called on the international community to put the necessary pressure on Morocco to force it to abide by the principles of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the use of mines and related weapons.”
Nessma TV has, however, removed the story from its website following the uproar it caused in Morocco. The story remained on Nessma TV’s website until Thursday 8 pm time of Morocco.
Surreal incidents in Tunis
CAF’s decision comes on the heels of Wydad of Casablanca’s complaints following the surreal incidents that happened during the second leg of the Champions League’s final last Friday in Tunis.
The controversy was triggered when Moroccan player Walid El Karti leveled the score of the match at the 58th minute. To the surprise of football fans around the world, Gambian referee Bakary Gassama disallowed the goal for an alleged offside.
Angered by the decision, WAC players pressured the referee to review the goal through the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), but Gassama dismissed their request.
WAC players refused to resume the match until the referee has reviewed the validity of the goal through the VAR. After more than 20 minutes of interruption, they were told that VAR had not been functioning since the beginning of the match.
Amid embarrassing scenes in Rhades stadium in Tunis and after 90 total chaos on the pitch, Gassama ended the game, thus awarding the African Champions League trophy to Esperance of Tunis.