Morocco coach Walid Regragui has been handed a ban from four matches, two of which were suspended, just hours before his side’s final group match at the Africa Cup of Nations, Confederation of African Football officials said.
Regragui, who led his country to the World Cup semifinals in 2022, had been involved in an on-field spat with Democratic Republic of Congo captain Chancel Mbemba at the end of their Group F match in San Pedro on Sunday.
The incident led to scuffles between opposing players as well as staff on the pitch and alleged fighting in the tunnel at the stadium, but out of public view.
Morocco said they were appealing the decision, which came ahead of Morocco’s showdown against Zambia in San Pedro on Wednesday.
CAF did not say what Regragui was charged with. A statement on Tuesday said only it was investigating the post-match incidents.
Regragui had gone to shake Mbemba’s hand at the end of the match but held onto it as he tried to remonstrate with the defender, who repeatedly tried to pull away before breaking loose.
That set off general mayhem at the end of a 1-1 draw.
“He insulted me and my assistant on the sidelines before the end of the match,” Regragui claimed when talking to reporters after Sunday’s match.
“And in the end, despite that, I went to shake his hand but also to ask him: ‘Why are you talking to me like that?’ Then he looked away like he didn’t want to shake my hand. I held his hand, you can see that in the images, and he started screaming in every direction.
“He claimed I had called him an idiot but I never said that. He should be a little honest with himself.”
Mbemba responded: “I’m not perfect but when I’m on the field, I respect everyone, and respect is reciprocal.”
Morocco’s football federation were quick to denounce the decision and appeal.
“Following the unfair decision taken by the Disciplinary Commission of the Confederation of African Football against the coach of the national team, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation decided to appeal this decision, which it considers to be wrong, especially since the facts have shown that Walid Regragui did not commit any behaviour contrary to sporting spirit,” it said.
The ban means Regragui will have to sit out the Group F game against Zambia and Morocco’s round-of-16 match.
His assistant Rachid Ben Mahmoud, a former international, replaces Regragui on the touchline.