Safa stop ref Gomes from handling Tunisia game

Victor Gomes is an experienced member on the SA Football Association referee's list.
Victor Gomes is an experienced member on the SA Football Association referee's list.
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

Top referee Victor Gomes has been invited to handle the traditionally contentious Tunisian league fixture between Esperance and Etoile Sahel but was denied permission by the South African Football Association as he is allegedly needed at home in SA.

Safa refereeing boss Tenda Masikwa confirmed to TimesLIVE that Gomes had been told he could not go to north Africa to take charge of the prestige match.

“We told him he couldn’t go to Tunisia because we also have important league games‚” he said.

The Tunisian Football Federation routinely ask foreign referees to handle the match between the north African country’s two most successful clubs because local officials are accused of bias and face too much pressure and intimidation.

The Tunisia wanted Gomes‚ who is now one of the continent’s elite whistlemen‚ for this Wednesday’s meeting between the two clubs.

Instead the Tunisian federation have now asked Bamlak Tessema of Ethiopia to take charge of the match.

Gomes is on the shortlist of referees for the next World Cup in Qatar and recently refereed at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil.

Tunisia have invited referees from both Africa and Europe to handle previous games.

The same happens in Egypt when Cairo rivals Al Ahly and Zamalek meet.

Tunis-based Esperance‚ who have won the last two African Champions League titles‚ have been crowned champions in Tunisia over the last three seasons‚ with Etoile Sahel runners-up on each occasion.

Etoile‚ from the seaside town of Sousse some 150km from the capital‚ were last champions in 2016 when Esperance finished second.

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