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Referee blows up AFCON game early, chaos ensues

Tunisia Mali referee

A refereeing performance for the ages.

Tunisia vs Mali had one of the most extraordinary endings to a football game in recent memory, with the AFCON group stage match leaving viewers and players stunned.

Mali won the game 1-0 thanks to a penalty scored by Ibrahima Kone, but this relatively dubious decision from the referee barely scratched the surface of what came afterwards.

With just minutes left in the match, VAR reviewed a potential penalty, which was then awarded. The penalty was missed by Tunisia, which led the referee to blow for full-time with at least five minutes remaining.

Tunisia vs Mali AFCON chaos

The game, following protests from the players on the pitch, resumed, and the action didn’t stop there. El Bilal Touré was shown a straight red card for a challenge that seemed far more worthy of a yellow, if even.

This also went to VAR, and while the referee double checked his strange decision, he stuck to his guns.

Moments later, with 89 minutes and 47 seconds gone, the referee again blew for full-time, and this time he meant it.

Unsurprisingly, Tunisia were furious as there should have been at least five minutes of injury time, and there appeared to be something odd happening.

Security was needed to protect the referee from the protests of the Tunisian staff.

Tunisia vs Mali referee chaos

After a period of deliberation, all of the Mali players took to the pitch to play out the remainder of the game, but the Tunisian players did not, meaning Mali were given the three points.

While Tunisia failing to reappear on to the pitch essentially confirmed they had no chance of even gaining a point from the game, it is somewhat understandable given the bizarre nature of the referee’s performance.

It will be interesting to see the response that AFCON deliver in the wake of this game, especially given they have the attention of the wider football world more than usual.

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