Rabat – Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club is not happy with CAF’s final verdict in the controversy with Tunisia’s Esperance de Tunis over the second leg final of the African Champions League.
On Sunday, September 15, CAF, the governing body of African football, sided with ES Tunis’s appeals in its final verdict. CAF declared the Tunisian club the rightful winners of the trophy. This was supposed to be the end of long off-pitch battle between the two clubs.
But in a surprising move after CAF’s final verdict, the Moroccan club has said it plans to file yet another complaint to contest CAF’s ruling. Wydad is taking advantage of the fact that it has 10 days to protest the ruling before the decision becomes binding and irreversible.
“We will fight for our rights until the very end,” Wydad chairman Said Naciri has been quoted as saying just hours after CAF’s verdict was made public.
Naciri said that his team “has been fighting for more than two months” to expose the “oppression” and other outrageous treatment they were subjected to before, during, and after the second leg at the Rades stadium on the outskirts of Tunis. “Esperance does not deserve to win if we take into account the way things unfolded in Rades,” the Wydad president argued.
But the surprise, even irony, in Wydad’s resolve to “fight until the end” means the club is determined to rush into taking its final complaint to an entity, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has already ruled that ES Tunis should be the champions.
After the controversial second leg match in May, CAF initially opted for a rematch. But both Wydad and EST felt they had been wronged. The two clubs took the matter to CAS, each arguing that it should be the rightful winner.
CAS then overruled CAF’s rematch decision but declared EST as more legally deserving of win. Other than Wydad’s complaint about CAF’s rematch ruling, CAS said then, its case for winning the match was not legally compelling.
CAF’s latest verdict was a confirmation of CAS previous ruling, which raises questions as to what Wydad really hopes to get from yet another complaint with yet another body that has already delivered in favor of the opposing side.
But Wydad’s Naciri does not see the matter this way. He sees neither irony nor contradiction in Wydad’s resolve to file a complaint with CAS.
In his statement, he appears to evince confidence that maybe this time CAS, suddenly realizing that its previous ruling had missed some elements of the controversy, will give Wydad’s indignation the support and validation it deserves.
“Our next step will be to bring the case to CAS,” Naciri said, adding that he expects the court to deliver in a spirit of “equity.”