Al Ahly’s attempt to force CAF to postpone the Champions League hit a snag after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday rejected the Egyptian superclub’s application to postpone the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League final.
The decider between Al Ahly and Wydad Athletic has been pencilled in to take place at the Mohammed V Athletic Complex in Casablanca on Monday night.
The 45 000-seater was officially confirmed as the neutral venue a fortnight ago following a bidding process.
However, Al Ahly and their coach Pitso Mosimane argued that the decision to have the final played in Morocco would go against the principles of fair play, as the move would give Wydad an advantage.
The majestic arena is home to Morocco powerhouses Wydad and Raja Casablanca, as well as the Moroccan national soccer team.
In their court filing, Al Ahly argued that the final should not be hosted by any of the countries that had reached the Champions League semifinals, and a neutral venue would provide equal chances for the four teams.
Wydad and Al Ahly overcame Petro de Luanda of Angola and Algerian side ES Sétif in the semifinals.
But, when news started filtering through that Morocco would host the final, Al Ahly stressed in their letter to the CAS that the game should be held at a neutral venue.
The argument by the Egyptian club was that CAF did not choose the host country at an earlier stage, stating that “giving one of the four teams the home advantage in the final contradicts the fair play standards”.
However, the CAS favoured CAF in its ruling.
The continental football governing body further reiterated that the final was awarded to Morocco because the north African country was the only other country that had fulfilled the hosting requirements after Senegal withdrew its bid.
South Africa and Nigeria were the other countries that did not meet the hosting requirements, according to a previous CAF statement, but the organisation did not elaborate.
In its latest circular, CAF maintained that it was “committed to the principles of fairness, justice and equality of all clubs and member associations, and would at all times treat them fairly and equally”.
It further wished Al Ahly and Wydad well, while confirming the details for Monday’s match, which is scheduled to kick off at 9pm local time.
It is the second year running that the same venue in Morocco is staging a Champions League final.
Al Ahly beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in last year’s decider in July.
The idea of a neutral venue seemed to be problematic, and CAF recently said discussions were under way in the organisation to revert to its tried and tested two-legged home and away format in the final, instead of a single-round final.