The Ivorian Football Federation has cancelled the second phase of the championship, declaring Asec champions, much to the dismay of FC San Pedro.
The demands of CAF's calendar have got the better of the 2023 play-offs. The African governing body has demanded that all leagues come to an end by 30 June at the latest, and has asked the federations to send in the names of the clubs that have qualified for the African Cups by that date. Better still, Asec were declared champions of Côte d'Ivoire for the 29th time in their history after finishing the regular phase with 63 points from 30 matches, ahead of SOA (54 points), FC San Pedro (51 points) and Sporting Gagnoa (49 points).
The Mimosas were also behind the reversal, as they refused to play extra matches after their gruelling season with the Confederation Cup in the background. Julien Chevalier, the Yellow-Black coach, set the tone a few days ago. "Normally today, you could write that we're champions of Côte d'Ivoire, and nobody could catch us. But we've invented a new formula. Once again, we're trying to favour the teams that can't keep up the pace, just to please them. But that shouldn't be the objective. The aim is to get them to work harder and stick with the engine, which is Asec," he pitied with two games to go in the league. Two members of the quartet who qualified for the last four agree with the Mimosas.
Obviously, this decision is not unanimous, even if the majority of clubs agree with it, with the exception of one. FC San Pedro, who finished third in the first leg of the competition, is taking issue with the Professional Football League, headed by Salif Bictogo. All the clubs agreed at today's meeting, but we said no," he said. In the next few hours, we will be sending a letter to the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF). We have hired a new coach in the person of Maxime Gouaméné. We have doubled the bonuses and other benefits for the players in order to achieve our goal of playing in an African competition," said Bouaziz Abdelkarim, the club's deputy chairman, protesting against the decision taken on 12 June 2023.
He demanded that the FIF respect the pre-season texts and decisions. "We are told that time is short to play the play-offs, but who drew up the calendar? We had to take all that into account. We have put in too many resources and the play-offs are a different league. We can achieve our objectives. FIF must respect the decisions taken at the start of the season. Nowhere was it said that a champion would be declared at the end of the first phase of League 1," he concluded his interview with SNA. But can the Tunisian-founded club win its case alone against the other three? The next few days will tell.