Caf Champions League final: Hawk-Eye reveals Emirates airline error in VAR controversy

A mistake by the airline prevented the technology from operating in the game between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca

Hawk-Eye, the company responsible for providing the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology, has revealed a baggage handling error by Emirates Airline was partly responsible for the controversial situation in last night’s Caf Champions League final second-leg at Stade Olympique de Rades.

The encounter between Esperance de Tunis and Wydad Casablanca was interrupted in the 58th minute after Walid El Karti’s header was ruled out for offside.

Wydad remonstrated with officials asking for video replays but referee Bakary Gassama didn’t ask for the use of technology.

It was later revealed that the equipment wasn’t functional as the game was interrupted for over an hour after the stoppage.

Esperance de Tunis were then crowned Caf Champions League winners because Wydad Casablanca, refused to return to the field in protest of VAR not being implemented on the goal that was ruled out.

In terms of goals, Esperance won 2-1 on aggregate to claim their fourth continental championship. 

Later, Hawk-Eye shed light on the mess that ensued in Rades.

“Hawk-Eye had arranged with a third party for one set of VAR equipment to be shipped from Riyadh to Tunis. The third party was responsible for exporting the equipment and shipping. We were informed on 23rd May that this equipment had been picked up and [they] were provided with a draft AWB and informed that the kit was due to leave Riyadh on Monday 27th. On Wednesday 29th May, upon waiting for the equipment to arrive into customs at Tunis, we were told this kit was still in Riyadh and would not arrive into Tunis on 30th May.

“Upon news that the Riyadh shipment would not arrive into Tunis on the 30th May, Hawk-Eye immediately implemented a backup solution which would fly on Emirates flight EK747 and hand delivered to the stadium on the morning of the 31st. This solution would have ensured the technology test and approval would take place. Unfortunately, Emirates made a baggage handling error and only 2 of the 3 cases of equipment arrived in Tunis.”

Article continues below

“Hawk-Eye makes every effort to deliver VAR services to Caf flawlessly. We are extremely disappointed that these issues have occurred. We would like to thank Caf for their ongoing support, and apologize unreservedly for this error.”

Meanwhile, Caf President Ahmad Ahmad has decided to call an Emergency Executive Committee meeting on June 4. The agenda to be discussed will be the regulatory solutions regarding the final.

Following their triumph against Wydad, Esperance have now joined Enyimba, Al Ahly and TP Mazembe as the sides to have successfully retained the Caf Champions League title.