Algerian international referee Mehdi Abid Charef will remember for a long time the first leg of the final of the AFC Champions League of Egypt – Esperance of Tunis (3-1), who led last Friday in Egypt.
He whistled three penalties, two in favor of the local and one for the visiting formation. It has been the subject of virulent criticism, relayed by consultants and arbitration experts here and elsewhere. The Algerian referee is accused of having awarded two non-obvious punishments to the Egyptian team.
However, the video assist arbitrator (VAR), used during this meeting, gave him reason in both decisions. Tunisians, it is their right, they do not share this feeling and were quick to inform him through a letter addressed to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), through which they complained about the decisions of Mehdi Abid. Charef.
Areas of darkness remain as to what actually happened when the VAR came into play after Mehdi Abid Charef's decision to indicate the penalty point. All observed that while awaiting the final decision to be taken by the referee, after the verbal exchange he had with the VAR agents, Mehdi Abid Charef pointed to the screen. Unusual thing in such circumstances.
It seems he was asking those who were watching the footage to show him all the photos of the actions on which he based his decision. Behind the screens, there were 3 referees, Cameroon Malang presaged to lead the final return Friday in Tunis, two Senegalese referees and especially Portuguese coaches chosen for the occasion by the Egyptian director.
The images showed Mehdi Abid Charef in full conversation, and with gestures of support, with those who decorated the sequence. In the second penalty awarded to Ahly, Mehdi Abid Charef could have canceled his decision after whistling the penalty if the Egyptian director had shown him the action in which Azzaro (Ahly) punched the Tunisian defender before the last touch the penalty box, precipitating the decision of the Algerian referee.
Which explains why the latter lingered in front of the small screen, where he was seen speaking firmly with the VAR men. Mehdi Abid Charef was arrested by the Egyptian director with the complicity of the Portuguese technicians? Only an independent investigation commissioned by CAF will say so.
But knowing the huge financial interests at stake, and especially the weight of the parties involved in lucrative television, marketing and advertising rights contracts, there is little chance that an investigation could lead to the realization.