Rabat – Tunisian media has blamed Moroccan referee Redouane Jaid and the video assistant referee (VAR) for Tunisia’s elimination from the 2019 African Cup of Nations (CAN).

Tunisian sports commentators have strongly criticized Confederation of African Football (CAF) for putting a Moroccan referee in the VAR room during the semi-final match, suggesting that it was a Moroccan-CAF plot against the Tunisian national team.

In a Tunisian televised program called “CAN diary,”  the commentators speculated that the decision to prevent Tunisia from taking a penalty was an intentional move against the Tunisian football team.

On Sunday, July 14, Tunisia lost to Senegal in an extra time thriller. Tunisians expressed anger after Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weysa decided to use VAR to double check his decision to award a penalty to Tunisia.

After checking the  VAR, the Ethiopian referee waved his arms to announce no penalty for the Tunisian team.

After the decision was announced, commentators began to speculate that it was a hostile move from CAF and Morocco.

During the broadcast, one journalist claimed that CAF did not announce who was monitoring the VAR during the Senegal-Tunisia game. However, several Moroccan news outlets  had reported that the Moroccan referee would serve as an assistant referee for a French referee in the VAR room.

Tunisian news outlet Realities Online said that “the nomination of Moroccan referees for Tunisia’s two decisive games also raised the thorny issue of the African Champions League final between EST[Esperance Tunis] and Wydad Casablanca.”

The tensions between Tunisia and Morocco on the football field came to a head after CAF’s decision to strip Esperance Tunis of  the Champions League title. Following the decision, Tunisian media speculated about corruption inside the CAF, and accused Ahmad of siding with the Moroccan club.

The news outlet also suspected a move from CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, “ a sworn friend of the Moroccan Football Federation” as described by the news outlet.

The same news platform claimed that Tunisian football federation was “surprised” by the presence of another Moroccan referee in the VAR room.

“It should be noted that the referees of the VAR did not call the referee Bamlak to check the first, or the second penalty whistled respectively for Tunisia and for the opposing team.”