Errant Nations Cup referee gets six-month ban

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The referee at the centre of the controversial penalty decision that helped hosts Equatorial Guinea reach the African Nations Cup semifinals has been banned for six months, CAF said in a statement on Tuesday. Rajindraparsad Seechurn of Mauritius has also been removed from the list of top African officials, effectively ending his international career, the Confederation of African Football added.

The Tunisian team, some of whom attempted to attack the referee after Saturday’s 2-1 quarterfinal loss after extra time in Bata, were handed a $50,000 fine but there were no individual sanctions announced.

Opponents Equatorial Guinea were also sanctioned for poor security at the match.

The decision followed two separate meetings in Bata on Tuesday – the first to discuss the referee’s performance and the second to sanction the two teams.

“The referees committee noted with regret the poor performance of the referee during the match, including an unacceptable failure to maintain calm and ensure proper control of the players during the match,” said the CAF statement.

A niggly match was turned on its head by Seechurn’s stoppage-time decision to hand Equatorial Guinea a soft penalty which allowed them to equalise and take the game to extra time. The match then degenerated into farcical scenes of fighting on the pitch and between the two benches after Equatorial Guinea’s Javier Balboa scored his second goal with a stunning free kick to win the game for the small host nation.

CAF’s disciplinary committee sanctioned both countries for their part in the fracas but did not come down hard on individual players as had been expected.

…and the “regrettable behaviour” of the president of the Tunisian Football Federation, Wadie Jary, who entered the field to remonstrate with the match officials

Pictures at the end of the game showed Tunisian players chasing after the referee, trying to punch and kick him.

CAF, instead, fined Tunisia and threatened them with expulsion from the next Nations Cup unless they apologise by Thursday.

The statement said CAF had “imposed on the Tunisian Federation a fine of $50,000 for the insolent, aggressive and unacceptable behaviour of the players and officials of the Tunisian team”. It also “instructed the Tunisian federation to send to CAF a letter of apology for the insinuations of bias and lack of ethics against CAF and its officials, or to present irrefutable evidence to substantiate the accusations”.

CAF said it had examined several incidents including a pitch invasion by fans, the aggressive attitude of some supporters in the stands, the invasion of the pitch after the final whistle by players and substitutes of the Tunisia team – insulting the referee and trying to physically assault him – and the “regrettable behaviour” of the president of the Tunisian Football Federation, Wadie Jary, who entered the field to remonstrate with the match officials.

CAF also said Tunisian players broke a door in the changing rooms and a fridge and would ask their federation to pay for the damages.

Equatorial Guinea were fined $5,000 after several supporters ran onto the field in celebration at the end of the game. But there was no mention of sanctions against fullback Sipoto, who was caught on television spitting at Tunisia’s Wahib Khazri.

– By