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CAF official faces accusations for assaulting Ethiopian referee

The Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) third vice president, Fouzi Lekjaa, faces accusations for assaulting Ethiopian referee Beamlak Tesema. Following the accusations of the assault, CAF’s Disciplinary Committee will sit in Cairo on Tuesday to hear a complaint, the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) have filed against the Moroccan.

The EFF alleges that Lekjaa (pictured), also President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has assaulted an Ethiopian and FIFA-listed Referee Bamelak Tessema after the RS Berkane, Lekjaa’s hometown club lost to Zamalek of Egypt in the CAF Confederation Cup final in Alexandria.

Beamlak was the center referee for the encounter.

In a protest letter written by the EFF to CAF on June 5 (see below), the Ethiopian Federation alleges that “after the game, during the medal ceremony, the 3rd Vice-President of CAF and the President of the Morocco Football Federation, Fouzi Lekjaa, had beaten Bamelak with a head-butt.”

“After the players [of RS Berkane] saw Fouzi Lekjaa’s action, they started to harass and kick him (Bamelak). Fortunately, he was saved by the authorities.

“As the Ethiopian Football Federation, we are following this case seriously,” they said.

Under Article 146 of CAF’s Disciplinary Code, “A player or official who openly incites others to hatred or violence will be sanctioned with match suspension for no less than one (1) year and with a minimum fine of twenty thousand US dollars (USD 20,000).

“In serious cases, in particular when the infringement is committed using the mass media (such as the press, radio or television) or if it takes place on a match day in or around a stadium, the minimum fine will be fifty thousand US dollars (USD 50,000) and the suspension one (1) year at least,” the statute concludes.

Sources within CAF have told insideworldfootball that Lekjaa has been ordered to personally appear before the Disciplinary Committee. However, it did not confirm, at the time of writing this report, whether Lekjaa had agreed to appear before the body.

Many within the corridors of African football power say this is a decisive moment for CAF, as there were several eye-witnesses to the incident, who insist the complaint of the EFF is legitimate and must be transparently dealt with.

“Many within the African football community are watching, very closely, to see how this matter is handled, because of Lekjaa’s very strong influence within the organization,” one knowledgeable and influential source in CAF, who declined to be named, told Insideworldfootball.

“I do not see how CAF will have the credibility to punish anyone for any act of indiscipline if this matter is not dealt with. No matter a person’s position or his level of influence within CAF, once they commit a grave offence, they have to pay for it. If the right decision is not taken, it will be very bad for the organization,” the source said.

Lekjaa has been at the center of controversy in CAF, when he accused the body, of which he is a key member, of turning a blind eye to the use of averaged players at the last Under-17 African Championship in Tanzania.

The FRMF President has also threatened to take CAF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after the stalemated Champions League final between Tunisia’s Esperance and Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club. The latter side abandoned the match, in protest against a goal that was mistakenly disallowed by Gambian Referee Papa Bakary Gassama.

The governing body’s executive committee, at a meeting in Paris, ordered a replay of the second leg of the final, rather than award the match and trophy to Esperance, following Wydad’s abandoning of the game.