CAF suspend ref for poor control of African semi

Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi was suspended by the Confederation

of African Football on Thursday, a day after his below-par

performance in the Burkina Faso-Ghana semifinal at the African Cup

of Nations.

CAF secretary general Hicham El Amrani said its executive

committee would meet on Friday to decide how long the official was

suspended for and also if the red card he showed Burkina Faso’s

Jonathan Pitroipa for diving could be rescinded, clearing Pitroipa

to play in Sunday’s African Cup final against Nigeria.

El Amrani conceded CAF was unhappy with the performance of Jdidi

on Wednesday but could not overturn the red card to Pitroipa for

simulation unless the referee admitted he made a mistake.

”CAF is not happy about the level of refereeing in the second

match yesterday,” El Amrani said. ”We would have expected a much

better level of refereeing.”

Pitroipa’s red card in the final few minutes of extra time was

one of a number of what appeared to be poor decisions by the

Tunisian that went against the Burkinabes before they eventually

beat Ghana in a penalty shootout.

Jdidi denied Burkina Faso two penalties, the second when

Pitroipa was seemingly fouled by a defender. He also disallowed a

goal for Burkina Faso in extra time and his performance was roundly

criticized by Burkina Faso coach Paul Put, who sarcastically called

the official ”the best player of the day.”

At its final news conference at the tournament, CAF noted the

poor performance of Jdidi, while South Africa’s Daniel Bennett also

made mistakes in an earlier game between Togo and Tunisia.

But El Amrani said the standard of refereeing at Africa’s top

tournament hadn’t all been poor.

”Let’s not cover the entire thing with pessimism. To say

overall it tarnishes the image (of the tournament), I would not

agree,” El Amrani said.

CAF’s executive committee will rule on whether Pitroipa’s

suspension for the final should be overturned, El Amrani said, but

the secretary general noted all refereeing decisions were

”sovereign” and able to be changed only if the official himself

conceded an error.

France-based Pitroipa’s absence would be a big blow to Burkina

Faso in its first African final with its leading scorer at the cup,

Alain Traore, already out injured.

Referee Bennett had admitted showing a yellow card to a wrong

player earlier in the tournament, allowing that to be overturned

and leaving hope that winger Pitroipa might be reinstated for his

team’s biggest ever game.

CAF and South Africa’s local organizing committee also announced

a sellout for Sunday’s final at Soccer City, with all 76,000 public

tickets snatched up.

In total, South Africa had sold over 700,000 tickets for the

tournament, but neither semifinal was full and the third-place game

had moved only 17,000 tickets for the 46,000-seat Nelson Mandela

Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

El Amrani said that up to the quarterfinals, no player had

failed a doping test at the African Cup.