Tedious Manyepo Sports Reporter—
HIGHLANDERS coach Erol Akbay says ZIFA’s decision to rescind the red card shown to Dynamos’ Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa Ntouba at Rufaro on Sunday for head-butting defender Peter Muduhwa was “confusing and not football-related”. The top-flight’s leading goalscorer, on 12 goals, lost his temper in the Battle of Zimbabwe and headbutted the Bosso defender in an off-the-ball incident as the Harare giants were preparing to take a corner three minutes from the end of regulation time.
Referee Arnold Ncube, who had a poor game, flashed a straight red on Ntouba after the incident.
But, in a dramatic twist of events, ZIFA yesterday announced the nullification of Ntouba’s dismissal with the Association’s Referees Committee saying this was from a review of the game and the poor showing by the referee.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association Referees Committee has made a ruling on the 87th minute sending off of Christian Joel Epoupa Ntouba during a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match between Dynamos and Highlanders at Rufaro Stadium on 10 September 2017.
“ZIFA president and Referees Committee Chairperson, Dr Philip Chiyangwa announced the decision following extensive deliberations with members of the referees’ committee and several important football stakeholders.
“We will not issue any further statement at this stage,” read a statement from ZIFA.
Chiyangwa said they were going to take disciplinary action against the referee for questionable performance on the afternoon.
Akbay, who has maintained Ntouba deserved to be sent off, said the new developments were disturbing.
“That Dynamos player (Christian Epoupa Ntouba) hit my player and from the way we reviewed the incident, I actually thought he was supposed to serve more than four games on the sidelines,’’ said the Dutchman.
“I think the referee (Arnold Ncube) did the right thing when he flashed a red card to the Dynamos player.
“He (Ntouba) headbutted my player off the ball and according to the rules and regulations of the game, obviously, he was supposed to be dismissed, which the referee did.
“To be then told that the red card has been nullified makes me laugh. It is confusing and I don’t think that (nullification) has anything to do with football.
“Why is it that every time a decision goes against Dynamos, something strange happens? Are they not equal to other teams?
“I don’t understand this, after my player has been head-butted and the referee does the right thing then one day later you hear the decision has been nullified. So, where are we going when something which has been done correctly is treated like that?”
Dynamos team manager Richard Chihoro said as far as he knew, his team had not appealed against that decision.
“We spent the whole of today (yesterday) locked in a meeting with the executive,’’ he said
“Nothing to do with the red card was discussed and I only heard that the red-card has been nullified late in the afternoon after the meeting.
“I don’t know if any member of our executive had made an appeal, but I can confirm that nothing to that effect was discussed in the meeting we had the whole afternoon.
“On Sunday, I did not see what actually transpired in that box because I was concentrating on looking at the player who was about to take the corner kick. I only saw the referee (Ncube) flashing the card to our striker (Ntouba).
“So, on the nullification of the card, hear me right, I have no comment,” said Chihoro.
Social media exploded last night following ZIFA’s announcement of the card nullification.
Zimbabwe Soccer Supporters Association board member Eddie Chivero said if the ZIFA Referees Committee felt the referee had erred horribly on the day, they also should have pronounced judgment on the Bosso penalty which the match official didn’t give.
‘’The referee was simply poor and for a fair ruling, so that it is not seen as if this is an attempt to help Dynamos, the committee should also tell us what they think about the Bosso penalty that wasn’t given,’’ said Chivero.
‘’I think Dynamos should not use the Cameroonian for two games as a way of respecting the other teams who might feel they are getting a favour.
‘’Remember, Dominic Chungwa was missing, after being suspended, from the other Derby.’’
A replica of the Zidane World Cup case
Ntouba’s dismissal was a repeat of France captain Zinedine Zidane’s expulsion during the 2006 FIFA World Cup final for head-butting Italian defender Marco Materazzi.
The referee who gave Zidane his marching orders, Horacio Elizondo, told Goal.com four years ago the decision was difficult but not the most important moment in his career.
“(I am remembered) for the sending off as it was the World Cup final and because of the importance of the player, who was the captain of France and the best player in the world,” Elizondo said.
“It was a difficult decision to send him off, but one cannot fail to recognise that the right decision was made.
“Soon there will have been two World Cups since then, but everyone still asks me about that moment. It was a very significant event, but not the most important decision I made in my career.”
ZIFA Referees Committee Point To Gabriel’s Case
Braziian defender, Gabriel Paulista, was last year granted a reprieve by the Football Association after his expulsion in the match against Chelsea was nullified by English football authorities.
He was playing for Arsenal then and has now moved to Spanish side Valencia.
Gabriel faced a three-match ban after referee, Mike Dean, gave him a red card for what he deemed to have been violent conduct following a clash with Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
Dean had already booked Gabriel for his part in a fracas with Costa and when the defender flicked his foot at the Spain international, Dean ruled that it merited a straight red.
Arsenal appealed on two counts — on the legitimacy of the dismissal itself and against the severity of the three-game punishment — and submitted video evidence in support of their case to the FA’s independent panel.
The panel, essentially, took their side and they deemed Dean to have made an error of judgment.
Gabriel was cleared to play against Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup.