AFCON 2021 - Controversial Referee

AFCON 2021: Controversial Referee Who Ended Tunisia vs Mali Game Early Claims it was a Message from God

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By Martin Graham | 3rd Feb 2022

Janny Sikazwe, the referee who officiated the Tunisia vs Mali group stage game in the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, has claimed that he ended the game after hearing from God.

Sikaziwe blew for full-time early in the Group F opening match between Tunisia and Mali in the ongoing AfCON, and has now claimed he did so because he felt a heatstroke coming on. He also claimed that he could have died if he did not end the match early.

The Zambian official blew for full time five minutes to the end of the full 90 minutes regulation time in the match that was played on January 12. He was later forced to restart the game and still ended it 13 seconds early.

Tunisia were losing 1-0 and playing against a Mali side that were a man down. The referee’s decision left the bench of Tunisia furious and they stormed onto the pitch to confront him.

Sikaziwe had to be escorted off the pitch by security as the tensions started to boil over. The AFCON LOC ordered the match to be resumed, but Tunisia did not return to the pitch inadvertently giving the victory to Mali.

Sikaziwe was later suspended by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the rest of the tournament and has now come out to say that he ended the match after God told him to, due to him feeling a heatstroke coming on.

“I have seen people going for duties outside the country and come back in a casket,” he told reporters after arriving back in Zambia. “I was very close to coming back like that.

“I was lucky I didn’t go into a coma. It would have been a very different story. The doctors told me my body was not cooling down. It would have been just a little time before [I would have gone] into a coma, and that would have been the end.

“I think God told me to end the match. He saved me.”

Unusual climate led to my decision, Sikaziwe claims

Sikazwe further insisted that the extreme Sub-Saharan climate, which has seen some matches at the tournament played in temperatures of over 30C, affected him a lot.

“The weather was so hot, and the humidity was about 85 per cent,” he continued.

“After the warm-up I felt the [conditions] were something else. We were trying to drink water but you could not feel the water quenching you – nothing.

“But we [match officials] believe we are soldiers and we go and fight.

“Everything I was putting on was hot. Even the communication equipment, I wanted to throw it away. It was so hot.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer