CAN 2022 scandal: what is happening with African arbitration?


Even in prestigious competitions, the difference of several elements cannot go unnoticed between African and European football. Although the continent has stars of exceptional talent, when they play for their national team, one bitter observation is unanimous: there is a serious problem with refereeing.

Indeed, several coaches from different selections share this observation. The African Football Confederation has repeatedly received complaints against referees and their « unfair » or ostensibly « biased » errors, which unfortunately are drowned in absolute impunity.

Often, on the green lawn, the last word goes to a referee who decides whether or not to influence the game with decisions that completely change the game. For example, the national coach Djamel Belmadi has already mentioned this recurring and thorny subject, since the EN has often found itself the victim of a contentious arbitration. Belmadi therefore denounced this unfortunate corruption in such a noble sport, supposed to be devoid of any bad intentions.

Refereeing, this black spot in African football becomes scandalous as Belmadi said, something that has become customary in African matches where glaring errors are hushed up to the detriment of the players’ efforts.

CAN 2022: an arbitration already pointed out

From the first matches of the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations (CAN 2022) in Cameroon, arbitration is at the heart of controversy. The Algerian Youcef Belaili had mentioned an unwhistled penalty in the match against Sierra Leone, the referee did not use the VAR to confirm it and he simply decided to continue the match.

Even today, the referee whistled the end of the game for the first time in the 85th minute, before resuming the match and definitively whistling the end before the 90 minutes and without additional time. Non-whistled penalties, hidden yellow cards and end of the match at the discretion of the referee, refereeing only removes African football from a respect it deserves on the international scale.

Although the indignation is important, it is still necessary to act and especially to punish, in the name of the love of football and in the name of ethics.

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