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French boxers and refereeing, a curse at the Olympics?


French boxing returns empty-handed from Tokyo. After a good harvest of six medals in Rio, this sport has not won in Japan. Several members of the team, eliminated prematurely, once again complained about the refereeing. The last Frenchman in the running, Mourad Aliev, even saw his disqualification as an injustice.

Mourad Aliev did not want to leave the ring. The boxer sat on the edge for 45 minutes after his fight. The only Frenchman still competing in the tournament in Tokyo, he was eliminated on disqualification from the referee in the + 91 kg category against the Briton Frazer Clarke.

“It’s unfair, everyone saw that I won,” protested Mourad Aliev, still in the ring, when the referee had just informed him of his disqualification for a head butt to his opponent.

Incredulous and angry, Mourad Aliev, who seemed to dominate the fight after a given first round winning 3 judges to 2, then turned in circles in the ring, going to see his opponent to say “I won”. During the fight, Frazer Clarke opened the two eyebrow arches and it was after the second treatment that the referee, bringing together the boxers, announced his decision.

“I am suffering an injustice”

After the official officialization of the result by the speaker, the Frenchman then made the sign “no” with his fingers in front of the cameras. Asked about the France TV antenna, Mourad Aliev then returned to this decision which he considers “a scandal”.

“I have always fought against injustices and here, today, I suffer an injustice. All my coaches, all my supporters, all those who saw the fight saw that I won, that I made myself to steal. Really, it is a theft, “he said, not hiding his immense anger.

According to John Dovi, general manager of the France Boxing team, the judges admitted they were wrong. “They attest that there is a refereeing error in the ring. They have reviewed the fight several times. We do not see any error on the part of Mourad, but we can not do anything because the rules state that we can’t change the decision, ”he explained. “We tried to do a sitting because we can not stay like that. Mourad is our last representative in addition after everything that has happened during this fortnight,” he added.

The Blues have indeed once again been cursed during these Games. While boxing had won six medals in Rio, it achieved a zero point in Tokyo. Several members of the team complained about the refereeing. Billal Bennama was beaten on Saturday by the Kazakh left-hander Saken Bibossinov on points (29-28 for the five judges) in the round of 16 of -52 kg. This decision made him fulminate. “The Kazakh has made his fight, congratulations to him, but he does not deserve the victory”, he reacted as reported by the newspaper L’Équipe.

The same day, his teammate Sofiane Oumiha, Olympic vice-champion of -63 kg, was also eliminated from his start, by stop of the referee who considered that he was no longer able to continue the fight. According to Olympic champion Brahim Asloum, consultant for France TV, this arbitration is incomprehensible because the Frenchman was quite lucid: “He should have asked Sofiane to step aside, or move forward, to see if he was lucid. […] It’s hard, it’s too quick, premature, unfair to stop. Especially since the referee only counted it up to 6, and not 8 by law. “

For John Dovi, there is no doubt. There is clearly a “cabal” against the French team. “All the decisions are against the French, there is always something. And we do not know why. They only know it. Perhaps the pill of six medals in Rio was badly gone. There it is the last straw. ‘water that breaks the camel’s back. It is abused, “he told Ouest-France.

The tears of Alexis Vastine

This is not the first time that Olympic boxing refereeing has been controversial. The most striking example remains that of Alexis Vastine whose tears had marked France. In 2008 in Beijing, the young boxer was eliminated in the semi-finals after a controversial arbitration decision. He led the fight on points against the Dominican Felix Diaz until the end of the third round (9 to 6). His opponent then launched into a frantic pressing. The referee had sanctioned the Frenchman the first time, causing him to lose two points, then nineteen seconds from the end, a second time, accusing him of hanging on too much. Alexis Vastine had finally bowed 10 to 12. Kneeling in the ring, in tears at the end of the fight, the Norman had shouted: “They have no right, they have no right to do that!” .

Four years later, the curse had once again befallen the champion in London. He had lost his quarter-final against the Ukrainian Taras Shelestiuk, world champion in 2011, by decision of the judges (18-18 after the three rounds). Even his opponent seemed surprised, so much the last recovery had appeared to the advantage of the French. Very angry just after the final decision, Alexis Vastine had struck his bare fist in one of the corners of the ring. He will disappear three years later in a helicopter crash during a TV show.

Exclusion from the international boxing federation

At the time, other delegations criticized this arbitration. In the under 56 kg category, the Japanese Satoshi Shimizu had also experienced it, recalls the France Info site. Opposed to Azerbaijani Magomed Abdulhamidov in the round of 16, he sent his opponent down six times in the third round. Despite his domination, the judges had designated his opponent winner of the fight (22-17). Some had then pointed to cases of corruption.

After years of governance scandals and suspicions of match-fixing, the International Boxing Federation (AIBA, International Amateur Boxing Association) was kicked out of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) two years ago.

As Euronews explains, the new president, the Russian Umar Kremlev, then said he wanted to clean up: “What is important for us is to turn the page on all the problems that the federation has been facing. We must list everyone who has been corrupted and ensure that they are excluded from the boxing world in the future. “

Richard McLaren, the Canadian lawyer who investigated doping in Russia, was recruited to investigate past mismanagement within the federation. “Boxing has a long history of questionable activities,” a- he insisted last June in a press release announcing his mission for AIBA. “There have been multiple investigations into the sport in the past, which have not been completed or acted upon. (…) Our team will conduct an independent investigation into the issues surrounding corruption or the manipulation of sports results during the Rio Olympics, will identify those responsible and recommend the appropriate course of action. ”

Due to the exclusion of AIBA by the IOC, the international federation did not organize the tournament in Tokyo and yet the controversies are still present. Like Alexis Vastine in his time, Mourad Aliev leaves Japan angry and with a lot of bitterness: “They free me from the ring. They tell me you’re losing. Ciao, go back to your room, go wash yourself, do your business and go home. . I come home empty-handed when I could at least have brought home a bronze medal. “

With AFP

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