Johannesburg — Burkina Faso winger Jonathan Pitroipa is to play in the African Nations Cup final after all, after being given a reprieve by the Confederation of African Football.
The red card handed him in Wednesday’s thrilling semi-final win over Ghana – which earned him an automatic one-match ban – has been rescinded by the CAF’s refereeing committee. This follows a written admission by Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi that he had made a mistake.
The referee has now been suspended and Pitroipa is available for the deciding match against Nigeria at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday.
CAF reviewed video evidence of the incident in which the Burkina Faso winger received a second caution for alleged diving and decided the referee had made a mistake. Jdidi had written that he had erred, although it is debatable whether the rules allow an admission after the fact to be considered.
There will be few who believe Pitroipa was not hard done by, and the decision will be applauded, but there is no provision in the rules for CAF’s referee’s committee to take the action it took. CAF's acceptance of the admission opens a veritable can of worms, suggesting that all decisions can be reviewed after the fact as long as mistakes are acknowledged in writing to the appropriate authorities.
Pitroipa had been booked first in the match for a hand ball and got a second card when he went tumbling down in the penalty area three minutes from the end. The referee adjudged him to have dived and booked him for "simulation", sending him off, to the horror of the player.
Red cards at the Nations Cup come with an automatic one-match ban.
Jdidi’s refereeing was one of several catastrophic performances at the Nations Cup by men in the middle.