BATA, Equatorial Guinea, February 5 – Tunisia’s football federation are refusing to apologise to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after accusing them of cheating, a member of the federation’s executive committee was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
In the wake of the violent scenes that followed Tunisia’s controversial elimination from the tournament by Equatorial Guinea last Saturday, the north Africans were fined USD 50,000 (Sh 4.7m).
They were also ordered to say sorry for “insinuations of bias and lack of ethics against CAF and its officials, or to present irrefutable evidence to substantiate the accusations”.
African football’s governing body gave Tunisia a deadline of midnight on Thursday to write a formal letter of apology or face the possibility of being disqualified from the next edition’s qualifiers, which start in June.
Tunisia rejected this after a meeting of the federation’s executive committee in Tunis on Wednesday, the Tunisia agency ATAP reported.
“Our investigation into the affair and the opinion of neutrals is that we suffered scandalous injustice from referees. Not only in the match against Equatorial Guinea but right from the start of the tournament,” committee member Hichem Ben Omrane was quoted as saying.
“We will explain all of this to CAF at a meeting,” he added.
CAF fined Tunisia for what it termed “the aggressive attitude of some supporters in the stands, invasion of the pitch after the final whistle by players and substitutes of the Tunisian team — insulting the referee of the match and trying to physically assault him — and the regrettable behaviour of the president of the Tunisian Football Federation, Wadie Jary”.
Jary went onto the field to remonstrate with the match officials.
CAF also said Tunisia’s players broke a changing room door and a fridge. The governing body suspended Mauritius referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn for his inability to control the match and took him off Africa’s elite panel.
Equatorial Guinea, who were also fined $5,000 after several spectators invaded the pitch to celebrate, beat Tunisia 2-1 having equalised after being awarded a dubious penalty on the stroke of fulltime.
They then scored a stunning free kick in extra time to claim an unlikely semi-final berth.
Their coach Esteban Becker was unsympathetic to Tunisia’s protests.
“It’s logical that a team will be sad if they lose against a theoretically smaller team,” Becker said.
“But that doesn’t justify things that don’t belong in football… Tunisia played a very dirty game; they tried to intimidate the smaller Equatorial Guinea players, this has no place in fair play.”