CAF clears Burkina Faso's Pitroipa for final

GERALD IMRAY AP Sports Writer Published:

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- The Confederation of African Football cleared Burkina Faso's Jonathan Pitroipa to play in the African Cup of Nations final against Nigeria after suspended referee Slim Jdidi admitted he made a mistake to send the forward off for diving.

CAF's disciplinary board agreed on Friday with a recommendation from the body's refereeing committee that Pitroipa should not have been shown a second yellow card for simulation in the semifinal win over Ghana.

After a protest by the Burkina Faso team, CAF rescinded the red card and allowed the Rennes forward to play in Burkina Faso's biggest ever game. It's the West African country's first major final.

"The disciplinary board decided to validate the recommendation of the CAF refereeing committee and to cancel the second yellow card given to player No. 11 of Burkina Faso," CAF said in its statement Friday night. "Consequently, player No.11 Jonathan Pitroipa of Burkina Faso is eligible for the final."

CAF was unable to change the decision of Jdidi, who penalized Pitroipa for diving when in fact he was fouled, until the Tunisian referee conceded he had made an error. CAF said Jdidi conceded the mistake in an additional report after the semifinal, when he was also roundly criticized for a poor refereeing performance and suspended by CAF.

Jdidi denied Burkina Faso two penalties at Nelspruit's Mbombela Stadium, the second when he sent Pitroipa off for diving. He also disallowed a Burkina Faso goal and awarded Ghana a soft penalty.

Burkina Faso still won the game on a penalty shootout to reach the final at Soccer City.

CAF said the decision to overturn Pitroipa's red card and automatic suspension was valid according to its rules governing referee decisions, which allows it to rectify "obvious errors in disciplinary decisions based on referees' reports."

Pitroipa's presence will be valuable to Burkina Faso in its attempt to win a first African title as the team's leading scorer at this tournament, Alain Traore of France's Lorient, will miss the final with an injury.

CAF did not clarify how long Jdidi would be suspended for.