Caf must come down hard on tardy Wydad following Kaizer Chiefs debacle
By Herman GIbbs
CAPE TOWN - CAF should come down hard on the Royal Moroccan Football University (RMFU) and Wydad, Morocco's most decorated football team.
Their collective tardiness has thrown Caf's highest-profile club competition into disarray when it could have been averted.
It is hard to stomach that in this day and age Wydad may have been motivated by gamesmanship. The tardiness in question is notifying Caf about a situation at the 11th hour when Kaizer Chiefs were preparing to fly out to Morocco.
The Champions League fixtures were decided a month ago and the RMFU and Wydad would have been aware of the pending match. They would also have been aware that for at least three weeks now, many countries have advised their citizens to avoid all travel to South Africa.
Similarly, since SA was named by several countries on its “List of High-Risk Countries” it was unlikely that governments would entertain visa applications from South Africans to enter their countries.
As the host club, Wydad should have taken the matter up with their government at least two weeks ago, and also inform Chiefs that visa applications could pose a problem.
Had they done this then Wydad would have known that visas for their SA opponents would not be granted and that they start thinking about an alternative venue after notifying Caf.
On the flip side, Chiefs sprang into action straight after the fixture announcement and proceeded with booking flights and accommodation, as well as to lodge visa applications.
Sadly, the Moroccan government did not acknowledge Chiefs' applicants nor were they informed that visas would not be issued because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Why Wydad had not carried out their hosting duties long ago, is anyone's guess. It would have been the logical thing to do and this is precisely what the Ghana Football Association has done.
Ghana will play Bafana Bafana in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on 21 March. Already last week the Ghanaian FA wrote to Caf and asked for the match to be played in another country because of the very high level of Covid-19 cases in SA.
This ensures that Caf will make a decision in good time and all the stakeholders can make timely arrangements for the match to take place outside SA.
Soon Caf will sit down to decide the next course of action in this impasse and it is likely that Wydad will be held accountable for not alerting Caf and Chiefs in good time about the problem with hosting the match.
Wydad cannot be allowed to act at the 11th hour when they had time on their side to arrange for an alternative venue in a neighbouring country which would issue visas to SA.
The likelihood of a walk-over for Chiefs looms large.