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The Beautiful Game

AFCON referee blows final whistle five minutes early, Tunisia refuses to return to pitch because players had “already taken their baths”

January 12, 2022

If you’re a stateside reader, chances are you are blissfully unaware that AFCON 2021 is underway, fittingly in the year 2022. Pitting Africa’s best international men's soccer teams against each other (think the Euros for Europe and Copa America for South America), AFCON is known for being pure, 100% organic chaos, and if you’re sleeping on the return of the biennial tournament after a nearly three-year absence, you are missing out …

But that, dear friends, is just a taste of the AFCON menu. For the full shebang, see below:

You may think you know bad officiating. You may think you know bad leadership. Hell, you may even watch the NHL. But we promise you have never seen incompetence on this scale. On Wednesday morning, referee of Mali-Tunisia, Zambian official Janny Sikazwe, blew his full-time whistle a whopping five minutes early and began walking off the pitch before checking his watch and throwing up the international symbol for "my bad, my bad."

After some confusion, he resumed play … only to stop the game once and for all in the 89th minute for no apparent reason. We may just be dumb Yankee doodle dandies, but last time we checked soccer games last 90 minutes plus stoppage time.

Needless to say, Tunisia, trailing Mali 1-0 at the time of the final final whistle, were apoplectic, and when asked to return to the pitch a short while later to finish the game for realsies, they refused for perhaps the most hilariously AFCON reason of all time:

"We did not want to resume because the players had already taken their baths,” said Tunisian coach Mondher Kebaier.

So there you have it, folks. The full AFCON experience in less than 500 words. If this sounds like your cup of Mad Hatter’s tea, make sure to catch the rest of the tournament/practical joke reality show live on beIN Sports.