• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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AFCON: Why CAF banned Morocco coach Walid Regragui

Morocco-coach-Walid Regragui

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has placed a four-match ban on Morocco coach Walid Regragui over racist comments against a Dr Congo player.

The sanctions relate to “post-match incidents” following Morocco’s 1-1 draw with DR Congo on Sunday in Group E fixture of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), which CAF said it was investigating.

In a statement, the Moroccan Football Federation (RMFF) described CAF’s decision as “incomprehensible” because of “the fact that coach Regragui did not violate the values of fair play”.

The RMFF also confirmed it would appeal against CAF’s decision – one which African football’s governing body has not yet publicly announced.

Morocco already assured of a place in the last 16 before facing Zambia in San Pedro, but Regragui will also miss their last-16 game unless the RMFF’s appeal is successful.

Atlas Lions assistant Rachid Benmahmoud will replace Regragui on the touchline against the Chipolopolo.

The suspension came after a heated exchange involving Regragui and Mbemba during Sunday’s game.

The exchange ensued when the Atlas Lions’ head coach approached the Congolese captain to shake hands with him following the game.

Regragui told the French sports outlet L’Equipe that the player had been avoiding eye contact if he did not want to shake hands with the Moroccan coach.

“I held his hand, and he started screaming as is evident in pictures and the widely circulated videos,” Regragui said, strongly denying claims that he made racist comments in his altercation with the Congolese player.

“I really didn’t like these dishonest claims. Since he only talks about religion in his statement to the press, let him be a little honest with himself,” Regragui stressed.

The coach’s remarks came after Mbemba told the press on Sunday that he would not get into details of his allegations of racist abuse from Regragui, claiming that it was “better… to keep (the) silence” in the wake of such a controversy.

“Everybody knows me, I respect everyone…but I never thought I’d hear that word from the coach, that it would come from his mouth,” Mbemba said.

He further claimed to have videos other than the widely circulated one that better document his heated exchange with Regragui.

On Tuesday, Regragui re-addressed the situation, saying that he has been receiving death threats and that the accusations targeting him have been affecting his family.

The coach also stressed his determination to continue defending the image that he has built over many years.

According to Foot Mercato, a popular Spanish football outlet, players from the DR Congo squad also refuted rumours of “racist remarks” insisting that the exchange was nothing more than a “simple post-match altercation.