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Ismaili are back
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 14 - 02 - 2019

News of Ismaili's return to the most prestigious football club competition on the continent brought joy to the club's officials and home town fans. Ismaili, dubbed Egypt's Brazil, was the first to win the African Champions league in its old version in 1969.
On 10 February the Appeal Board of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) held a meeting to decide on the club's appeal against the decision of the Inter-club Competitions and Club Licensing which was taken last month, ousting the club from the Champions League because of crowd disturbance.
According to a statement issued by CAF, the appointed match officials of the game between Ismaili and Club Africain of Tunisia, match No 96 played on 18 January, reported that the home fans of Ismaili had been continuously throwing stones and water bottles on the assistant referee and the visiting team, specifically on the 86th minute while Club Africain was attempting to take a corner kick. After continuous failed attempts to restart play, Cameroonian referee Neant Alioum called off the game which Club Africain was winning 2-1. Both teams and match officials were escorted to the dressing rooms by security personnel.
Accordingly, a decision was taken on 23 January by the Organising Committee for Inter-club Competitions and Club Licensing after a review of the reports, disqualifying the Egyptian club from the competition. The committee based its decision after referring to the regulations of the competition. It had therefore decided the elimination of Ismaili from the Total CAF Champions League 2018/2019 and that the overall results of the matches in which the team participated in were cancelled “without prejudice to other sanctions that may be imposed by CAF Disciplinary Board”.
But Ismaili appealed the decision, saying that, according to Article 12 of CAF regulations, there was no invasion of the pitch or aggression against the visiting team and that it could not be established by the officials' reports, match footage or by any reported incident.
CAF is yet to decide how, when and where Ismaili are to play the matches they missed in the third round of the Champions League. The club's stadium is being renovated for the Africa Cup of Nations which Egypt will host this summer. Ismailia is one of the cities scheduled to host the 24-team tournament.
Because of the disqualification, Ismaili had missed playing their home and away matches in their Group C third round against Algeria's Club Sportif Constantinois. The home match was scheduled to be held in Ismailia on 1 February and the away match was scheduled to take place on Tuesday 12 February in Algiers, just a day after the decision that reinstated the Egyptian club to the competition once more.
Ismaili, who are making their first Champions League appearance in eight years, lost 2-0 at DR Congo's TP Mazembe before falling against Africain. Group C also includes Algeria's CS Constantine.


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