Ref Errors Mar Champions League Finals: Chaos In Africa, Controversy In Europe, 2 Ugly Days For Beautiful Game

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Two major continental football federations — the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) — staged their biggest games on Friday and Saturday, and both Champions League finals ended up mired in controversy over apparently mistaken referee’s decisions. The CAF Champions League final pitting, as The Inquisitr reported, ES Tunis of Tunisia against Wydad Casablanca of Morocco got the worse of the two, descending into total chaos after Wydad players refused to continue playing after the referee wrongly ruled out an equalizing goal due to a phantom offside call.

The CAF plays a two-legged Champions League final, and with Espérance Sportive de Tunis leading 2-1 on aggregate, Wydad’s Ismail El Haddad scored in the 59th minute to deadlock the score, only to see the goal waved off by match referee Bakary Gassama of Gambia, as ESPN.com reported, calling El Haddad offside. Video replays on the international television broadcast clearly showed the call to be mistaken, but for reasons that remain unclear, Gassama refused to consult the Video Assistant Referee system.

Wydad players then refused to continue playing. The delay and scenes of chaos dragged on for an hour before Gassama blew the final whistle, declaring ES Tunis the winner. Reports from the scene at Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia claimed that the VAR was unusable due to “technical problems, but other reports appeared to contradict that story.

The CAF executive committee is now set to hold an emergency meeting on June 4 to decide whether the match should be replayed, according to Africa Football Daily.

At the UEFA Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain, the much-anticipated all-English final matching last year’s runner-up Liverpool FC against Tottenham Hotspur, playing in their first Champions League final, took a controversial turn just 30 seconds in. Slovenian ref Damir Skomina quickly awarded Liverpool a penalty, calling handball on Spurs midfielder Moussa Sissoko — though replays showed that ball kicked by Liverpool’s Sadio Mane struck Sissoko not on his outstretched arm, but in his right armpit, as The Guardian reported.

Skomina also refused to consult VAR, though. According to a Mirror newspaper account, “Skomina received an instruction from the VAR officials” that the penalty call was not controversial — at minimum a questionable judgment — and therefore no VAR review was necessary.

Liverpool striker Mo Salah converted the penalty, putting Liverpool up 1-0, and Tottenham appeared never to recover as the Reds went into defensive mode, taking only three shots on target compared to eight for Tottenham, and commanding just 35.4 percent possession off the ball, according to BBC stats. But they finally turned on the attack late in the game and an 87th-minute goal from Divock Origi sealed the 2-0 Liverpool victory and their sixth European championship, second in the Champions League era.