CAF to probe Morocco-DRC racism allegations



The Confederation of African Football have launched an investigation following accusations of racist abuse in a post-match altercation between Democratic Republic of Congo defender Chancel Mbemba and Morocco head coach Walid Regragui, as well as allegations of assault by the Morocco players.

Sunday's 1-1 draw between the two sides at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations ended in a heated exchange between Mbemba and Regragui after the match, which developed into a brawl in the corridors of the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San-Pedro.

This was followed by an exchange of accusations between the two parties, and despite the Royal Moroccan Football Federation's attempts to offer an olive branch to the DRC, CAF have decided to step in.

On Monday, African football's governing body confirmed they were investigating "post-match incidents" in a statement given to ESPN.

No further detail of the nature of the charges levelled against both parties was given.

CAF is investigating an altercation between DRC's Chancel Mbemba and Morocco coach Walid Regragui. Getty Images
CAF is investigating an altercation between DRC's Chancel Mbemba and Morocco coach Walid Regragui. Getty Images

Mbemba and Regragui had to be pulled apart at the conclusion of a tense Group F encounter, after words were exchanged as the latter gone to shake hands with the defender while he was in the process of praying.

Mbemba, who plays for top-tier French club Marseille, attempted to break the handshake, demonstrating that he was unhappy the head coach had attempted to influence the referee's decision during the match by gesturing an imaginary red card towards the official.

"I'm keeping my silence, it's better," Mbemba told The Associated Press after the match. "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.

"I respected the coach, but the videos are clear on television. I took my time to glorify my God."

Mbemba was subsequently subjected to racist abuse on his Instagram.

Congolese Federation (FECOFA) president Dieudonne Sambi Nsele-Lutu, said in a statement that there were "unacceptable racist attacks towards our captain," who was "subject to impolite remarks on the part of the Morocco players, as well as their head coach, which continued to the point of him being a victim of an assault in the locker room corridors."

This prompted a response by both the Moroccan head coach and the FRMF.

"He implies that my comments are racist," Regragui told L'Equipe. "It's dishonest. As he speaks only about religion in his speech, he should be honest with himself.

"I held his hand and he started screaming, as you can see in the photos and widely circulated videos.

"Mbemba insinuated a lot of things. If he has images other than those seen on television, please, let him show them."

On Monday, the Moroccan Federation issued a statement to ESPN, clarifying the "unfortunate" events that took place following the match, while also reinforcing the "distinguished and historical" connections between the two countries.

"[We] express regret, without resorting to accusations, for all unsportsmanlike acts following the match," the statement noted, while pointing out that FA president Fouzi Lekjaa was the first to congratulate DRC coach Sebastien Desabre at the full-time whistle.

"The FRMF reiterates its commitment to the values of good conduct, ethics, and fair play, believing these incidents will only strengthen the fraternal bonds between the two countries."

Morocco skipper Romain Saiss, in an Instagram story on Sunday, downplayed the post-match incident and urged unity between the two sides.

"Football is still a sport, with tension, adrenaline and the rest," the Al-Shabab defender began.

"What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch.

"We all make mistakes under pressure, and with the challenge of a major competition, but we mustn't get everything mixed up and leave room for an outpouring of hatred on both sides.

"We're all proud to represent Africa, proud to be African, whatever our origins. Let's not divide ourselves over nonsense, it's still just football. Let's stay united and show our best face in this AFCON and the fraternity that unites our continent. Africa United. Stop racism. Stop hatred."

Morocco, who conclude their Group F campaign against Zambia in San-Pedro on Wednesday, currently lead the group on four points and have already secured their place in the knockout stages.

The Leopards can join them in the round of 16 if they avoid defeat against Tanzania in Korhogo.

Keywords: Ivory Coast Africa Cup of Nations AFCON

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