KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS: African football’s governing body turned itself into a laughing stock here today after CAF’s executive ordered a replay of the controversial Champions League final second leg between Esperance of Tunisia and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

Last Friday Esperance were declared winners of the title by a walkover after a stoppage of an hour and 25 minutes in the second leg of a final abandoned when Wydad walked off the pitch.

Wydad had gone 2-1 down on aggregate after a 41st-minute Esperance goal from Youcef Belaili. They claimed an equaliser just before the hour but a headed ‘goal’ by Ismail El Haddad was disallowed for an infringement in the build-up.

The Moroccan team demanded that Gambian referee Bakary Gassama review the decision in consultation with the video assistant referee, which was being used for only the fourth time in an African club competition game.

He refused, Wydad duly refused to play on and more than an hour later, despite frenzied attempts to officials to restore calm, the match was abandoned. Esperance were duly declared winners for the fourth time.

Wydad appealed to the CAF exco which failed to reach a decision here in Paris on Tuesday and met again after the conclusion of FIFA Congress.

With fans of both clubs protesting outside the hotel, the exco led by CAF’s Madagascar president Ahmad Ahmad decided to order a replay outside of Africa.

Thus CAF imitated the South American confederation’s decision to play the second leg of its own scandal-scarred Copa Liberadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors last year in Madrid.

Esperance have been ordered to hand back trophy and medals but are likely to appeal first to CAF and then to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The controversy has been exacerbated by claims from Tunisia that CAF has a policy of trying to bring Morocco into the heart of the African game after several difficult years.