Tunisia and Morocco leave differences with Caf in the past

Caf Ordinary General Assembly
Caf Ordinary General Assembly

Tunisia and Morocco's differences with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) are in the past, both North African nations say.

Tunisia had faced expulsion from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations until apologising to Caf for complaints it lodged against the organisation during this year's Nations Cup.

Morocco, meanwhile, were only able to enter the 2017 Nations Cup qualifying draw after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) overturned a ban on its participation.

"We are preparing for a future full of good things for both Africa and Morocco," said Moroccan FA chief Fouzi Lekjaa.

"We are back after a little break of a few months, but it has not had a big impact. The impact was minimal and we were, along with our Caf colleagues, able to make it pass."

Morocco were punished in February after being replaced as 2015 Nations Cup hosts last November, just two months before the competition began.

The North Africans refused to stage the tournament in January 2015, citing fears over importing the Ebola virus, and asked for a postponement of either six or twelve months instead.

Earlier this month, Cas overturned Caf's ruling and reduced a fine imposed on Morocco's FA from $1m (£675,000) to $50,000 (£34,000).

Equatorial Guinea stepped in to stage the 2015 finals, despite having just 64 days to prepare.

The host nation was also at the centre of the incident that led to Tunisia's row with Caf, which the local federation (FTF) says is now over.

"I am convinced that the page has been turned and that there will no longer by any problems," FTF vice-president Maher Snoussi told BBC Sport.

Seeking their first Nations Cup triumph since 2004, the Tunisians were leading 1-0 in the 90th minute of their quarter-final against the hosts when they were awarded a highly contentious penalty.

The spot-kick was converted and Equatorial Guinea went on to win 2-1 in extra-time, as the Tunisian players and bench largely lost their heads as tempers flared.

The Tunisians wrote a furious letter to Caf in response, which prompted African football's ruling body to demand an apology by 31 March 2015 or face disqualification from the next Nations Cup.

Contrary to media reports, the Tunisia Football Federation insists it never accused Caf nor Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn of corruption.

"We never spoke of corruption because we had no evidence," said Snoussi.

"But we were strongly convinced that the referee sought out an unjustifiable penalty, and that perhaps he was influenced by the atmosphere inside the stadium."

"But we never accused either him or any Caf member of corruption. "We simply said the referee was very badly chosen and we contested that a 45-year-old, coming towards the end of his international career, should have been selected.

"In our famous letter, we said that the commission in charge of appointing referees had to assume responsibility for appointing a referee incapable of handling the match."

Tunisia's 2017 participation seemed in doubt until a meeting with Caf president Issa Hayatou and others in Senegal in mid-March led to a rapprochement.

"Luckily, with the strong pressure of Issa Hayatou, with whom I had a meeting in Dakar where we discussed our difference, we've managed to turn the page," said Snoussi.

"We are very happy to be playing the (2017) Nations Cup and I feel this difference has been now completely ironed out."

Following last week's draw in Cairo, Tunisia will face Togo, Liberia and Djibouti in Group A while Morocco will Cape Verde, Libya and Sao Tome in Group F.

Should the Tunisians reach the 2017 finals in Gabon, they will reach their thirteenth straight Nations Cup - which would be a record.

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