Connect with us

North Africa

Esperance crowned champions of African club football

Esperance are the first club to win the competition twice without losing a match.

News Central

Published

on

Esperance win Champions League after VAR controversy
Esperance de Tunis players hold hold up the trophy after winning during the 2nd leg of CAF champion league final 2019 football match between Tunisia's Esperance sportive de Tunis and Morocco's Wydad Athletic Club at the Olympic stadium in Rades on May 31, 2019. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Esperance won the Champions League in Tunisia after Wydad Casablanca refused to continue playing on 60 minutes because VAR was unavailable to judge a disallowed equaliser.

The Tunisian side was leading 1-0 in the second leg of the final and 2-1 on aggregate when play was halted, and after a 90-minute delay, the referee awarded the match to the home side.

Tunisian media reported that officials were aware before the match that the VAR (video assistant referee) system was not working, but the players seemingly did not know.

It is the first time in the 55-year history of the elite African club competition that a match in the home-and-away final series has not been completed. 

Wydad believed they had levelled on 59 minutes when Walid el Karti headed a cross into the net. TV replays confirmed he was onside, but might have fouled an opponent with his shoulder.

The Moroccan team insisted that the Gambian referee check with VAR, apparently unaware that the often controversial system was unavailable. 

Wydad substitutes and 69-year-old coach Faouzi Benzarti joined in the protests and police foiled an attempted assault by a spectator wearing the red and gold of Esperance.

Plastic bottles containing liquid were also flung toward the Wydad players and coaches as tempers flared.  

At one stage, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and the bosses of Esperance and Wydad spoke on the side of the pitch without succeeding in getting the match restarted. 

The Wydad players and coaches eventually went to the changing room and, after a long delay, the referee indicated that Esperance had been awarded the match.

Social backlash

There was widespread criticism of the debacle on social media with many tweets saying that calling off the club showpiece brought shame to African football.

The abandonment occurred just 20 days before an expanded 24-team Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Egypt, with VAR scheduled to be used during the knockout phase.

VAR had played a major role in the first leg of the final in Morocco last weekend, with referrals ruling out a goal by Wydad and later appeals for a penalty by the Moroccans.

The Egyptian referee of that match was subsequently banned for six months with CAF saying his performance was “poor”.

Three-time former champions Esperance took the lead on 41 minutes when Youcef Belaili curled a shot into the net from the edge of the box at the Stade Olympique.

The Tunisian outfit dominated the opening half and fully deserved to lead at half-time in the 60,000-seat stadium.

But the way Esperance ultimately won the competition for a second successive time took much of the gloss off the achievement.

They are only the fourth club after Al Ahly of Egypt, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Enyimba of Nigeria to achieve back-to-back Champions League triumphs.

And by going through their 2019 CAF campaign unbeaten – equalling the achievement of the 1994 squad – Esperance became the first club to win the competition twice without losing a match.

It was also a special night for 37-year-old coach Moine Chaabani, who became the first from north Africa to win two Champions League finals in a row.

Tunis citizens reacted to the triumph by pouring into the streets and screaming joyfully while cars and motorbikes crisscrossed the capital, honking horns.

Many Esperance supporters flocked to the district where the club was formed 100 years ago in a cafe of the same name.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

North Africa

Turkey’s Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed

“Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene.” -Erdogan

Published

on

Turkey's Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Serhat Cagdas / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, who collapsed in court and later died, did not die of natural causes but that he was killed.

Erdogan, while giving a speech in Istanbul, cited as evidence that the deposed Egyptian president allegedly “flailed” in a Cairo courtroom for 20 minutes on Monday and nobody came to his assistance.

On Wednesday, the Turkish president said: “Unfortunately, Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene. Morsi did not (die) naturally, he was killed.”

Erdogan said his country would do everything in its power to ensure Egypt faces trial in Morsi’s death. He also called on the Islamic Cooperation Organization to “take the necessary action” over the death of Morsi.

Continue Reading

Africa News & Updates

Morsi gains popularity after death, supporters confer martyr status

Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”.

News Central

Published

on

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
A portrait of former President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi as people attend the funeral prayer in absentia for Morsi at Hunkar mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

Unpopular in power and deposed after huge protests, Egypt’s ex-president Mohamed Morsi could be humanised in the eyes of many Egyptians after his death in court Monday.

“It is sad, from a strictly human point of view”, a trader in central Cairo said of the former head of state, who had been imprisoned since his 2013 fall from power, and was buried on Tuesday.

“He was old and ill. Whatever one thinks of the political situation, his death while the court was in-session shows that those who judged him were not good people”, the trader said, on condition of anonymity.

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
People attend the funeral prayer in absentia for Morsi at Hunkar mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 19, 2019. Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt and he was appealing a 2015 death sentence, making both the man and his organisation extremely sensitive topics in the country.

While Morsi’s supporters have quickly given him the status of a “martyr”, Egyptian authorities appear keen to avoid a wave of empathy from citizens, who largely favoured the uprising that deposed him.

His rapid burial on Tuesday morning took place extremely discreetly and under heavy surveillance, while the public and the press were forbidden from attending.

‘Death symbolically important’ –

Morsi came to power in 2012 in elections that took place the year after a popular uprising that deposed president Hosni Mubarak, who had headed an authoritarian regime for three decades.

Spurred on by mass demonstrations against Morsi’s own rule, the army ousted him on July 3, 2013 and Egypt declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation”.

Ever since, the government has cracked down heavily on opponents, especially on members of the Islamist organisation.

The official narrative, regularly broadcast by Egyptian TV channels — which are all behind the regime — is that the Brotherhood are “terrorists” who harm the country’s interests.

Egypt's Morsi likely 'more popular' after death
Mustafa Ozturk / Anadolu Agency

Since Morsi’s death was announced, some channels have hosted “experts” denouncing the “violence” and “lies” perpetrated by the group.

On Tuesday morning, pro-government newspapers only briefly mentioned Morsi’s death, without referencing his status as a former president.

TV channels devoted most of their airtime to a visit by current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — Morsi’s former defence minister, who ultimately toppled him before being elected head of state in 2014 — to Belarus.

“As a president, Mohamed Morsi was not very popular among Egyptians — in fact he was unpopular, he was seen as uncharismatic, indecisive, very unsteady,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.

But “his death in a courtroom will humanise him in the eyes of many Egyptians” who do not support the Brotherhood, Gerges added.

While Morsi was not a great leader for the Brotherhood, “his death will be symbolically important” and could drive radical elements of the group to take up arms against the authorities, Gerges said.

Radicalisation –

Since its founding in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has faced numerous waves of repression by Egyptian governments, which have been dominated by the military since 1952.

Morsi’s death adds to a long list of what the Brotherhood call martyrs, including the group’s founder Hassan al-Banna, who was assassinated in 1949 by Egypt’s secret police.

Another key figure, Sayyed Qotb — one of the movement’s main ideologues and an inspiration behind its radicalism — was executed in August 1966 by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime, which fiercely repressed the Brotherhood.

But for Zack Gold, an analyst at the CNA research centre in the United States, it is “unlikely Morsi’s death will result in any immediate rise in the security threat to Egypt”.

Jihadist movements — sympathetic or not to the Brotherhood — are already very active in Egypt, particularly the Islamic State group in North Sinai, the Middle East security expert said.

Since 2013, hundreds of Egyptian soldiers, police and also civilians have been killed in attacks.

“In the long term, it would be concerning if the government pre-emptively arrested large numbers out of concern for street protests or other outbursts in the wake of Morsi’s death,” Gold said.

Conditions in Egypt’s prisons “have a track record of radicalising individuals”, he noted.

Continue Reading

North Africa

Algeria’s army chief describes military opponents as ‘enemies of Algeria’

According to Gaid Salah, a constitutional void would amount to “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state”.

Published

on

Algeria's army chief describes military opponents as 'enemies of Algeria'
Lieutenant-General Ahmed Gaid Salah, chief of Staff of the Algerian Armed Forces and Vice-minister of Defence. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Algeria’s Military chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, has regarded those who oppose the military as enemies of the country, as the country’s protest movement persistently demand the removal of the ruling elite that has been in power for years.

“Those who are knowingly trying to circumvent… terms of the constitution, do they realise what it means to suppress all state institutions?” he asked in a speech.

According to Gaid Salah, a constitutional void would amount to “the destruction of the foundations of the Algerian national state”.

Related: Students in Algeria protest against army chief

“It is unthinkable to proceed in the name of the people with the destruction of the achievements of the Algerian people, that is to say… the constitution.’’

Demonstrations similar to the ones that led to the removal of Bouteflika have carried on, with protesters demanding an end to the current regime and the establishment of independent institutions.

An election which was previously planned for July 4 was later postponed by authorities, without a new date being announced.

Related: Presidential elections cannot hold July 4, Algeria’s constitutional council says

On Monday, Algeria’s top businessman Ali Haddad, who was a key supporter of Bouteflika, was jailed for six months for possessing two passports, in the first conviction in a string of corruption probes.

Last week, two former prime ministers were detained by a judge.

Related: Key Bouteflika ally, Ali Haddad jailed for six months in Algeria

The judiciary must “bring to justice all the corrupt regardless of their function or their social rank”, Gaid Salah said.

“The fight against corruption knows no limit and no exception will be made to anyone… it’s time to clean up our country,” he added.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Newsletter

Trending