By Tarek Jlassi
I come hereby to complain as a Tunisian citizen about an incident occurred during the first leg of the African champion’s league final between the Congolese team T.P.Mazembe and the Tunisian team Esperance Sportive de Tunis.
Unfortunately, Africa came through a new scandal in this CAF final held in Lubumbashi-The Democratic Republic of Congo in October 31, 2010.
A week preceding the game, the referee Mr.Djapoue Kokou arrived to Lubumbashi and settled in a villa rent by TPM president Moise Katumbi. This by no means alike to what should be done during any competition.
Mr Djapoue Kokou is 42 year old, at the end of his career and has been suspended by the FiFA for 3 years after he was condemned for conspiracy and controversial behaviour including bribing. After that, his suspension was reduced by the CAF to 18 months and has been appointed to refereeing the first leg of the final of the most prestigious competition in Africa! All complains and efforts of Esperance Sportive de Tunis board of directors to change this referee were rejected.
It has been reported that a day prior to the game kick off, one of the two assistants was replaced by the CAF under the advice of Kokou, arguing that he is inexperienced and too young for such an event.
These are some of the numerous flagrant mistakes committed by the referee and his first lines man during this first leg:
*T.P.M opened the score at the 19th minute, Kasongo was in an offside position but the goal was accorded.
*The referee gives a red card to Esperance defender Mohamed Ben Mansour at the 23rd minute for an imaginary offense which no camera managed to record.
*Many Throw-ins in favour of Esperance were awarded to the opposing team for no reason *Djapoue Kokou was targeting the Tunisian side’s top players such as Michael Eneramo, Zied Derbali and Majdi Traoui with yellow cards so that they would not be allowed to play in the next match. Under such pressure, Fawzi Benzarti, the Tunisian coach, was obliged to substitute some key players in the 1st half in order to guarantee their participation in Rades-Tunisia.
*Before the end of the first half, and at the 42nd minute, the referee gives an imaginary penalty to T.P.Mazembe.
*In the 49th minute of the match, and after the goalkeeper intervention, A Congolese player was in an offside position, pass the ball to Singuluma who scores the fourth goal.
*30+ fouls for T.P.M / only 4 for the Tunisian team during 90+10 additional minutes!
*No offside was declared against T.P.Mazembe.
*Not a single yellow card was given to the Congolese players despite several rough interventions.
*Only 4 fouls were awarded to the Tunisian team
After the match, Majdi Traoui who won the tournament with Etoile Sportive de Sahel in 2007 said:” I have never seen in my entire life a match like today. Since when did a referee blow for a foul when you control the ball? It’s incredible; it’s a real shame for African football.”
Youssef Msakni, the Tunisian midfielder said:” With such referee, even Barcelona or Real Madrid would have conceded five goals today.”
This final was considered by many International newspapers as the scandal of the year, we are in 2010, but we are back to the middle age after October the 31st. Moreover, it has also been reported that the referee was drunk and he smelled alcohol during this game.