Cas's Champions League final verdict is a slap in the face to Caf

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The court ruled against a replayed final following the fiasco between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca earlier this month

Only six months after the 2018 Caf Champions League between Esperance and Al-Ahly, where VAR was underutilised, it was expected that the Confederation of African Football would learn from the disappointing experience and improve the use of the video replay technology ahead of the 2019 showpiece between the Tunisian giants and Wydad Casablanca.

The second leg of this match, however, was completely overshadowed by another refereeing fiasco.

The Tunisians were leading 1-0, and 2-1 on aggregate, in the second leg until the Moroccans equalised in the 58th minute, only for the goal to be ruled out by referee Bakary Gassama.

Wydad were aggrieved and refused to continue play if the goal was not awarded to them following VAR consultation, only to be informed that the technology was not in operation.

After a considerable delay, and the refusal of Wydad to resume play, the match was called off and Esperance were declared champions for the second time in a row.

Not the fairest of finals, but in a shock twist, Caf came out to rule that the final ought to be replayed on a neutral ground, and that Esperance were to return their medals. The Tunisians, furious with the decision, took their complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the verdict revealed earlier this week.

Cas ultimately passed the decision back to the Confederation of African Football, proclaiming that they were overruling the decision to replay the final, and that Caf were to make the final call.

Esperance Tunis CAF Champions 09112018

The whole situation has been a shambolic PR episode for Caf, from President Ahmad Ahmad coming onto the pitch to try and convince Wydad players to resume the match, to Caf changing their initial decision, to African football's governing body now having to make another call on the final and the destination of the title. 

Caf have taken the step to make future Champions League finals one-leg affairs at neutral grounds after this year’s debacle, but it does little to change the shame that was brought upon the organisation about by their own lack of authority and poor officiating.

It also doesn't resolve the ongoing impasse between Wydad and Esperance.

Hawk-Eye, the company charged with producing VAR, later clarified an airline baggage handling error did not transport the entire components of the system, hence it could not be utilised at the Stade Olympique des Rades.

There remains uncertainty, however, about whether the two teams were made aware of this fact before the match, with Wydad insisting they were not aware that VAR wasn't functioning.

The whole episode has been another low in the leadership of current Caf President Ahmad, who has been criticised for a number of issues, from Africa Cup of Nations hosting changing hands to low turnout at the tournament, corruption allegations and alleged disputes with members of the Caf Executive Council.

The governing body has announced it will reconvene to deliberate on the Court of Arbitration for Sports' ruling, but the damage has been done, and the reputation of the organisation, let alone their authority, has been dented once again.

Cas's verdict, while understandable, hasn't solved the issue of who wins the 2019 Caf CL, but has only succeeded in heaping more pressure on Caf and placing more scrutiny on their current leadership and organisation.

Things may yet get worse before they get better...

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