By Frank Ulom
The Confederation of African Football, CAF has taken disciplinary action against 10 officials including referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, etc at the ongoing 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON in Ivory Coast.
CONVERSEER learned that the affected referees/officials have been sent home by CAF and won’t officiate any game again until the end of the 2023 AFCON.
One of them is Pierre Atcho from Gabon who officiated Senegal vs Ivory Coast’s game; his offence was that he failed to show Sadio Manè a red card for a bad tackle on Ibrahim Sangaré in the 9th minute of play, which would’ve reduced Senegal to at least 10 men. Although, Ivory Coast went ahead to win the game 5-4 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.
Also, the entire match officials for that game (Senegal vs Ivory Coast) have been excluded from the rest of the games in the tournament.
Atcho’s assistants (Boris Ditsoga and Carine Atezambong), as well as the teams responsible for the video assistant refereeing (VAR) for this match (Samir Guezzaz and Mahmoud El Banna), have been sidelined by the CAF.
More so, the VAR officials who handled Nigeria vs Cameroon are out too. Nigeria won 2-0 in that match.
The fourth referee for the Egypt vs DR Congo game has also been sent home. DR Congo won 8-7 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time. Egypt were reduced to 10 men.
Meanwhile, since the start of the tournament, the refereeing has been generally satisfactory, although teams like Algeria and Tunisia have voiced their complaints early on.
It’s noteworthy that the match between Senegal and Ivory Coast significantly marred the commendable efforts of the referees appointed by CAF for this tournament.
Attempting to absolve itself, the African football governing body, through its Secretary-General, Veron Mosengo-Omba, chose not to delve into specifics regarding the contentious matches.
“So far, the refereeing has been commended for its quality and high standard. As for the complaints regarding the VAR, it’s common to view refereeing as favourable when one wins, and unfavourable in defeat. I prefer not to engage in this debate. Everyone is entitled to critique, and these critiques are not aimed at me personally. It’s good to critique CAF, but it’s crucial to be fair,” he stated during a press conference.
The 2023 AFCON is in the semifinals with Nigeria playing South Africa at 6pm and Ivory Coast playing DR Congo at 9pm – all games will be played on the 7th of February 2024.
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