Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1241, (9-15 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Morocco gets the better of CAF

Africa’s governing soccer body will comply with a ruling that brings the North Africans back to continental football. Inas Mazhar reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Confederation of African Football has confirmed that Morocco will be able to play in the qualifiers for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday issued its decision concerning the appeals procedure initiated by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) against the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after Morocco refused to host the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2015 for fear of the spread of the Ebola virus.

Morocco had requested a postponement of the event from January until June on orders from the country’s Health Ministry but CAF refused to allow a postponement and the finals were moved to Equatorial Guinea.

Morocco was suspended from the next two editions of the Africa Nations Cup after it refused to host the 2015 event.

“The directors’ committee has expressed great surprise at the decisions made by CAF,” read a statement on the FRMF website at the time. “The directors’ committee of the FRMF rejects all these sporting and financial sanctions and considers that the decisions taken by the Executive Committee of CAF are against the development of African football, and not based on any statutory basis.”

But then, to the surprise of CAF and the joy of Moroccans, the CAS ruling came in favour of the North African country, in what was described by the international media as a win for the Moroccans over the continent’s football sport body.

A CAS panel upheld the appeal, while the sanctions imposed by the CAF on the FRMF have been set aside, with the exception of a fine which was reduced from $1 million to $50,000. The disqualification of the Moroccan team from the CAN 2015 was final.

The question related to the compensation of possible damage caused by the FRMF to the CAF may still be examined by another jurisdiction. CAS was referring to CAF’s claim for €8 million in damages for having to relocate this year’s finals with just two months’ notice. But CAS did not rule on that.

On Sunday, CAF held its scheduled Executive Committee meeting in Cairo where it took note of the decision of the CAS on 2 April 2015 in the case brought before it by the FRMF.

The committee noted that the CAS established that the Royal Moroccan Football Federation could not invoke “force majeure” in that the Ebola outbreak did not make it impossible for the cup to be organised in Morocco. In addition, the CAS admitted that the FRMF was responsible for violating Article 7 paragraph 1 a) of the statutes of CAF.

In its decision in February 2015 in Malabo, the Executive Committee of CAF indicated that the force majeure assertion by FRMF could not be accepted and that the Royal Moroccan Federation was guilty of infringing Article 7 paragraph 1 a) of CAF statutes.

A CAF statement said on the official CAF website: “It should also be noted that the CAS considered Morocco’s non-participation in AFCON 2015 as a sanction. However, the ‘A’ national team of Morocco qualified for the AFCON because Morocco was the host of the competition. Therefore, it automatically lost its qualification for 2015 following the country’s decision to renounce the right to organise the tournament.

“The CAS therefore reached the same conclusions as the CAF Executive Committee but decided to annul the sanctions imposed.

“CAF, which joined the authority of the jurisdiction of the CAS, has committed to implementing the decisions and will comply with this ruling despite the contradictions observed in the CAS decision.”

Media reports described the CAS ruling as a big blow to CAF and its long-term mighty president Issa Hayatou.

President of the Moroccan Football Federation Nourredine Bouchhati told reporters following the ruling that Morocco will continue working with CAF normally since their conflict has now concluded with the CAS ruling.

In a related development, Tunisia will now be allowed to compete in the 2017 Cup of Nations qualifiers after CAF confirmed that the dispute with the Tunisian Football Federation (FTF) had been resolved.

Following a meeting on 13 March in Dakar between Hayatou and FTF vice-president Maher Snoussi, the Tunisians agreed to formally apologise for their protests at the controversial quarter-final defeat to hosts Equatorial Guinea at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

“Tunisia have followed regulations with a formal apology,” read a CAF statement.

African football’s governing body had given Tunisia until 31 March to apologise over their reaction to the match when a dubious last-minute penalty gave Equatorial Guinea an equaliser before they went on to win 2-1 in extra-time.

Tunisia had accused CAF of favouring the host nation which led to their elimination

“The details are not yet official but following my meeting with Issa Hayatou, for me the problems are definitely settled,” said Snoussi on Monday adding that an appeal to CAS will be withdrawn.

“I am completely reassured that Tunisia will be one of the teams that are in the draw for the qualifiers,” he added.

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