Algerian international referee Mehdi Abid Charef will remember for a long time the first leg of the final African Champions League Cairo – Esperance of Tunis (3-1), which led to last Friday in Egypt.
He has whistled three sentences, two for the locals, and one for the formation. It has been the subject of serious criticism, which is broadcast by consultants and arbitrators here and elsewhere. The referee of Algeria is accused of having awarded two non-obvious penalties to the Egyptian team.
However, the video help referee (VAR), used during this meeting, told him about both decisions. The Tunisians are their right, they do not share that feeling, and they were quick to inform it through a letter addressed to the African Football Association (CAF) through which they complained about Mehdi Abid Charef's decisions.
Areas of darkness remain as to what actually happened when VAR came into operation after Mehdi Abid Charef's decision to show the penalty spot. They all noted that while waiting for the final decision to get the referee, after his verbal response to VAR agents, Mehdi Abid Charef moved to the screen. Unusual in such cases.
It appears that he was asking those who watched the material to show him all the images of the actions on which he supported his decision. Behind the screens, there were 3 referees, Cameroon Malang pressenti to lead the final return on Friday to Tunis, two Senegalese referees and especially the Portuguese technicians who chose the Egyptian director for the occasion.
Images showed Mehdi Abid Charef in full discussion, and with gestures in support, with those who decorated the sequence. With the second penalty given to Ahly, Mehdi Abid Charef could cancel his decision after finishing the penalty if his Egyptian director had shown the action where player Azzaro (Ahly) gave a punch to the Tunisian defender before the latter touched him in a penalty, precipitating the decision of the Algerian referee.
This explains why the latter stayed in front of the small screen where he saw a steady conversation with the VAR men. Has Mehdi Abid Charef trapped by the Egyptian director with the complicity of the Portuguese technicians? Only an independent research commissioned by CAF will say so.
However, knowing the enormous financial interests at stake and, in particular, the stake of the parties involved in speculative contracts for TV rights, marketing and advertising, there is little chance that research can lead to concrete actions.