INSIDE AFCON 2019: Ahmad Denies Foreknowledge of Referee Change Ahead of Senegal, Tunisia Final

CAIRO – The dysfunctional nature of decision-making in the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) has been exposed once again as both the organisation’s President Ahmad Ahmad and the head of its Referees’ Commission, Souleymane Waberi, have both shockingly admitted to not knowing how South African Victor Gomes came to be named as the centre referee for today’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Algeria before another announcement twenty-four hours later named Cameroonian Alioum Alioum as the official in charge.

CAF’s communication channels had on Wednesday named the South African as the official in charge of today’s final before new communication via those same channels twenty-four hours later, announced that Cameroonian Alioum Alioum will now oversee the final with compatriots Evarist Menkouande and Elvis Nguegoue as his assistants.

No reasons were given for the change at the time but during a press conference in Cairo on Thursday, when explanations were sought by journalists, CAF’s President Ahmad gave a rather bizarre response where he implied he had no foreknowledge of Gomes’ appointment saying that incidences like that was why he chose to invite FIFA to temporarily oversee the administration of CAF.

“You have seen also what happened with the website of CAF,” Ahmad said, referring perhaps to the hack of CAF’s website which affected the media channel and disrupted accreditation processes for journalists just before the start of the 2019 AFCON.

“This is why I have taken the decision to invite FIFA into CAF. So, thank you for acknowledging that my decision to bring in FIFA was the correct one.”

Souleyman Waberi who oversees the organisation’s referees’ body also claimed that he Referees’ Commission which he oversees never gave any authorisation for the Gomes announcement, saying his commission had no idea where CAF’s own communication’s department got their directive.

“The CAF Referees Commission did not make any appointment of the referee for today’s final until after the third-place match between Nigeria and Tunisia,” Waberi told journalist Osasu Obayiuwana today.   

“I was very shocked, like anyone else, to see the announcement of Victor Gomes on CAF’s social media handles.

“The moment I saw it, I went to see [CAF Deputy Secretary General] Anthony Baffoe and asked him who gave the communications department the right to make such an announcement. He was also surprised about it. We then had to order that those announcements be taken off all CAF social media.”

“This type of mistake should never happen. But the announcement of Gomes never came from the CAF Referees Commission. We must improve our communication as an organisation. What happened is not acceptable and people have the right to criticise us for this,” the Djiboutian said.