Violent scenes red-card African football

The Confederation of African Football was angrier with the insinuations and accusations of a fix than it was with players trying to assault a referee and it has again missed another good opportunity to clamp down on one of the scourges of the African game.

Violent attacks on match officials remains commonplace but the scenes that followed Tunisia’s defeat last weekend in the quarter finals of the African Nations Cup proved a major embarrassment for a tournament that, up to then, had been going along swimmingly.

But instead of taking the chance to impose heavy sanctions and restore credibility, the CAF has again bottled the opportunity, focusing rather on its own injured pride than the sanctity of the game.

The awarding of a dubious penalty to hosts Equatorial Guinea, just when they were on their way out of the tournament, added considerable fuel to an already niggly match, which then went into 30 minutes of extra time punctuated by frequent stoppages, skirmishes on the field and an extraordinary brawl between the two benches.

It was interspersed with a wonder goal that delivered a shock triumph for the small host nation, further incensing the already livid Tunisians, so much so that at the end of the game they chased the referee down the tunnel, kicking and punching him.


But video evidence of this was not used to punish those involved and to send a clear message of “no tolerance”.

Instead, Tunisia were fined $50 000 for their overall poor behaviour, with the CAF noting in particular their post-match insinuations that it had all been a set-up to allow Equatorial Guinea to go through.

That the referee made a very poor decision is obvious and many have jumped to the conclusion he took money from the hosts. Given his past track record, that is unlikely but his career is now over after being slapped with a six-month ban and culled from Africa’s elite panel.

But those who chased him and kicked him have got off lightly as has happened so often in the past in the African game. Violent scenes, particularly those involving North African sides, make a mockery of African football but there is little political will to stamp it out.

A lengthy suspension for the several Tunisian players who swung blows at the ref, as a phalanx of security policemen hurried him off the pitch, would have sent a signal that the sanctity of the game is at the heart of the CAF’s mission, not the fragile egos of politicians.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Premier League’s opening madness may well shatter our preconceptions

Thanks to several unique circumstances, this season will likely confound everyone, from pundits to economists

Expect no charity from football’s elite

We should let go of the hope that our favourite clubs are going to act altruistically in English football’s looming financial crisis

Q&A Sessions: ‘Each generation must open doors for the next’ — Desiree Ellis

Desiree Ellis has a deep understanding of the development of women’s football in South Africa. The Banyana Banyana head coach talks to Luke Feltham about how the women’s game has changed over her 40-year career

Cartoon: A Messi affair in the Barcelona house

An untidy board room has prompted a transfer request from the little man

Top European clubs circle as Messi calls time at Barcelona

The Argentine legend has fallen out with the Catalan club's hierarchy, which has alerted a number of sides in world football

Corporate and broadcast deals push PSL to restart

Football will return, but the players are likely to have very little time to acquaint themselves with the "new normal"
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Eusebius McKaiser: Reject the dichotomy of political horrors

Senekal shows us that we must make a stand against the loud voice of the populist EFF and racist rightwingers

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday