ARBITRATION, AFRICAN FOOTBALL’S ACHILLES HEEL


African arbitration is still under the hot seat. The performances of Gabonese Eric Otogo-Castane and Senegalese Maguette Ndiaye who officiated the matches DR Congo – Benin (2-0) and Ghana-South Africa (1-0) are singled out. Faced with the controversy, Sud Quotidien publishes for its readers an article entitled: Arbitration: Achilles heel of African football already broadcast on July 5, 2012. But which is still relevant today.

In 2012, TP Mazembe (DRC) challenged the Tunisian referee, Jeididi Slim, during his match against the Cairo club Zamalek. Cameroon had done the same during their trip to Dakar for the last round of qualifying for Can 2012. Fecafoot did not want to see the South African, Jérôme Darmon. Gabon qualifies Mauritian Seechurn Rajindraparsad as a “mercenary” and summons CAF to change its arbitration trio before his trip to Lomé against Togo.

In Senegal, we will not soon forget Raphaël Evehe Divine (Cameroon), Martins de Carvalho Helder (Angola) even less, Bouchaïb El Ahrach (Morocco). Between challenge and challenge, African arbitration poses a problem. « Does it bother you that he (Jeididi Slim, Editor’s note) is a compatriot of Lamouchi? » We Gaïndenautes have launched a petition to challenge him ”. This message was posted by an Internet user on the sudonline.sn portal, which has become sudquotidien.sn. KK, reacted thus on a paper that we published on September 28, 2012, following the choice of CAF to entrust the whistle to the Tunisian international referee, Jeididi Slim, during the sub-regional derby, between Senegal and the Côte d ‘Ivoire, October 13, 2012.

Challenging an arbitrator may not be the prerogative of Africa, but recurrence should raise questions about the impartiality, integrity, professionalism and even the competence of the men in black of the continent. We still remember Cameroon refusing to see the South African Jérôme Darmon take the whistle during the meeting between the indomitable « Lions » and those of Senegal in qualifying for Can 2012. CAF ended up giving in by replacing him with a Tunisian. This was not to the taste of the Senegalese media who saw him as « a specialist in blunders ». A joke from Me Augustin Senghor will close the debate. « Even if the refereeing trio were Cameroonians, the Senegal Lions will play the match, » he said at the time.

Faced with Côte d’Ivoire, the president of the federal body prefers to put psychological pressure on Slim Jedidi instead of rejecting him as the supporters wish. “We want fair and equitable arbitration. We have no tangible elements to believe that it will not be objective, ”he said. And to add: « we do not ask to be favored but we do not want to be those who are harmed at each meeting, because recalls Me Senghor, for several matches, the Senegal team has been the victim of errors of arbitration. It can happen but if it is only one team that is the victim, it really poses a problem ”. The president of the body was referring to the first leg in Abidjan, September 8, 2012, but also to the trip to Yaoundé, June 4, 2011. Some players even have trouble digesting the arbitration of Moroccan Bouchaïb El Ahrach. Papiss Demba Cissé as captain was the first to step up to the plate to castigate the behavior of the men in black in Africa. “If there is one thing that must be denounced in Africa, it is the referees. The referee can do anything because he is the sole master of the field. I am sorry to say that, but it is the reality. ”, He had hammered.

PENALTY CASES

First the first penalty in the 16th minute on Sadio Mané that the referee did not whistle and the other not very obvious. A supposed fault by Jacques Doudou Faty in the 80th minute on Gervinho which allowed Drogba to restore the advantage (3-2) to Côte d’Ivoire. Followed by an expulsion of the Senegalese defender. What prompted Kader Mangane to say that the players were « angry » with the refereeing. Was there really something to whip a cat? For many Senegalese, it is starting to be too much.

During the 25th edition of the Can, the “Lions” as well as the Federation cried foul. This, because of the performance of the Cameroonian referee, Raphaël Evehe Divine in the semifinals against Egypt in 2006. There also, it is a story of blatant penalty on Diomansy Kamara not whistled which triggered the ire Senegalese. « It’s scandalous ! I think that was to be expected. We must try to analyze the strong words of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt when he went to see the players. He was asking for the cup. It means going to the final and taking it. It is a very strong signal that was expected by everyone. It is with a bitter taste that we appreciate the elimination of Senegal. If Senegal were dominated in the game and lost, we would understand it. But they still gave a good performance. Senegal played on a level playing field against Egypt, in a stadium that had nearly 80,000 spectators. Really, the players were not unworthy. It is not worth writing to the African Football Confederation (Caf). It won’t change anything. We are eliminated and it will remain so. Certainly, with the problem of referees that we never cease to know, if we organize in 2010, we will go to the final. ” This was the severe indictment of the then president of the FSF, the late Mbaye Ndoye. Last year, it was the Prime Minister, never seen before, who stepped up to criticize the arbitration of Angolan Martins de Carvalho Helder, on June 4, 2011, in Yaoundé.

Worse, the Head of Government even demanded live on the radios, the head of the president of CAF, following the performance he deemed « disastrous » from Mr. Helder. “Issa Hayatou no longer deserves to lead football, he looked in front of his eyes and at home a scandal, while the referee gave a negative image of African refereeing,” reacted Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye.

THE GABON RECEIVES THE « MERCENARY »

Moreover, it should be noted that it is not only Senegal which protests against arbitration, even if it does not challenge them. Gabon has just summoned CAF to change its refereeing body. Mainly, the choice made on the Mauritian Seechurn Rajindraparsad, qualified by Ali Bongo as a « mercenary » to officiate the meeting to oppose the Panthers to the Sparrowhawks of Togo, on October 13 or 14, 2012. The Gabonese do not seem to forget the performance of the Mauritian, October 14, 2009, during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. At the time, their team, the Panthers, only needed a draw in Lomé to fly to South Africa. But according to them, Seechurn Rajindraparsad was responsible for blocking their path at all costs, to let the Cameroonians go to the 2010 World Cup. Paulo Duarte, then coach of Gabon, who was not then on the bench, was even allowed to invite himself into the debate by qualifying this lost match (1-0) of « brothel », without depriving himself of shooting at the referee who, according to him, had failed to whistle penalties and offside. Worse, the Portuguese technician, even suspected CAF of a plot after the choice made on this Mauritian referee. “This is not normal, rebelled Duarté. It is an offense for Gabon. Can’t say it’s planned but can’t believe it’s a coincidence. I can’t blame someone but at the same time I can’t think it’s a coincidence ”. A plot which seems to be confirmed in the eyes of Gabonese who, moreover, do not understand why, the same commissioner of the match of October 9, 2009 was renewed. Of Beninese origin, this commissioner was accused by the Gabonese of having falsified the report of the match at the time.

THE HEAVY HAND OF CAF

In this batch of errors or even suspicions, we must note the sanction imposed on Koffi Kodja. Considered the best whistle in Africa and the most experienced (two World Cups in 2002 and 2006, five Can), the Beninese referee completely missed his semi-final between Egypt and Algeria in 2010 Koffi Kodja, who officiated in the semi-final of CAN Algeria-Egypt (0-4) in Benguela, was also banned by CAF. This sanction followed the decisions of the man in black which raised many questions during this meeting. The main fact that he was accused of was for not having expelled the Algerian goalkeeper, Faouzi Chaouchi, when he pretended to give him a head butt. Collecting only a yellow card, the Algerian goalkeeper should have seen red. At the 2010 World Cup, the performances of Koman Coulibaly (Mali), Eddy Maillet (Seychelles), Jérôme Damon (South Africa) are far from being a textbook case. Mohamed Benouza him, was simply failed for physical failure.



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