Court to decide on Champs League final

Wydad players abandon the field during their CAF Champions League final match against Esperance in Tunisia on May 31.
Wydad players abandon the field during their CAF Champions League final match against Esperance in Tunisia on May 31.
Image: Getty Images

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is set to make a ruling by July 31 on whether the CAF Champions League final should be replayed or not.

Last month, CAF ordered the second-leg of the final between Wydad Casablanca and Esperance to be replayed at a neutral venue after it was abandoned.

There had been rumours that SA would host the replay, but Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul said the association had not heard anything yet.

In that abandoned final on May 31, the Wydad players refused to continue playing the match midway through after the VAR review system failed to work. The Moroccans wanted referee Bakary Gassama to review a disallowed goal but the system did not work.

Both Wydad and Esperance approached CAS seeking a ruling in their favour and against the resolution by the executive committee of CAF to replay the match.

"The clubs and CAF have prepared and agreed upon a procedural timetable for the CAS arbitration, with a final decision to be issued, at the latest, on 31 July 2019," the CAS statement read.

"CAS will not provide any further information in relation to this procedure, except to issue a media release announcing the final decision."

The first-leg of the final ended in a 1-1 draw in Morocco, while the second leg was abandoned with Esperance in the lead (1-0) in Tunisia.

Wydad and Esperance are challenging the resolution of a replay and both feel they are the rightful champions.

"In its appeal, Wydad mainly requests that the challenged decision be set aside and, consequently, to be declared winner of 2018/2019 CAF Champions League..." CAS said.

"Espérance Sportive de Tunis , in its appeal, seeks as main prayers for relief that the challenged decision be considered as null and void and, consequently, to be declared winner of the 2018/2019 CAF Champions League, to keep the trophy and medals awarded on 31 May and to order CAF to pay the prize money attributed to the winner."

Paul said it would be great to host a replay in SA, if it were to be declared, saying this would be good for the country.

"... but we would have to look at the conditions attached."

Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, whose team were knocked out by Wydad in the semis, admitted that the abandoned final was an embarrassment for football on the continent.

"That was not a good advertisement for African football. The organising of the game was not done right. If we have a game then VAR doesn't work then maybe you have a right not to continue..." he said.

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