February 2, 2015 / 1:06 PM / 3 years ago

Soccer-Tunisia players face heavy punishment for attacking referee

BATA, Equatorial Guinea, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Tunisia are facing heavy punishment after their players attacked the referee at the end of Saturday's African Nations Cup quarter-final loss to Equatorial Guinea.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) will discuss the incident on Monday after watching video footage, officials said.

Referee Seechurn Rajindraprasad of Mauritius was attacked by incensed Tunisia players who chased him down the tunnel and attempted to kick and punch him as he was escorted off the pitch by a phalanx of riot-clad policemen.

CAF will also look at a spitting incident involving Equatorial Guinea defender Sipoto who could be suspended for the semi-final.

Sipoto was caught by television cameras spitting at Wahbi Khazri of Tunisia early in the bad-tempered match which descended into unseemly brawls on the pitch and between the rival benches.

There will, however, be no discussion of the controversial penalty decision that effectively cost Tunisia a place in the last four and which their coach George Leekens said was "forced".

Rajindraprasad awarded Equatorial Guinea a soft penalty deep in stoppage time near the end of the game with Tunisia 1-0 ahead and seconds away from the semi-finals.

Equatorial Guinea converted the spot-kick to take the game into extra time and they went on to record an upset 2-1 victory.

It was a second successive game in which the host nation had been awarded a generous penalty which turned the course of the match.

CAF officials told Reuters the refereeing decisions cannot be overturned, although two years ago in South Africa they got an errant referee to write a letter admitting a mistake when he sent off Burkina Faso's Jonathan Pitroipa in the semi-final, effectively ruling him out of the final.

CAF then rescinded the red card in an unprecedented bending of the rules to allow Pitroipa to play in the deciding match. (Editing by Ed Osmond; mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com; +240222770533; Reuters Messaging: mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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