The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match between Morocco and DR Congo was packed with on and off-field drama. Aside the 1-1 scoreline, a major talking point is the altercation between defender Chancel Mbemba and atlas Lions Coach, Walid Regragui.
Afte the full-time whistle on Sunday, January 21, 2024, a tumultuous scene played out as dozens of players and staff from Morocco and DR Congo engaged in a heated altercation following their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) game.
The incident, triggered by a fiery exchange between Morocco’s head coach, Walid Regragui, and DR Congo’s defender, Chancel Mbemba, with the defender accusing the coach of making racist remarks.
Video footage captured the chaos that ensued, with members of both teams confronting and pushing each other in the aftermath of their 1-1 draw.
The conflict escalated in the tunnel, with players continuing to scuffle as they ran into the depths of the stadium.
An account on social media, purportedly the official page for AFCON, claimed that Regragui was being investigated by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for racially insulting Mbemba.
The account alleges that a lip-reading analysis concluded Regragui had made a racially insensitive remark: “Look at me while you shake my hand.”
The authenticity of this account remains unconfirmed, and CAF has not made any official statements regarding an investigation.
Regragui vehemently denies the racism allegations, emphasizing that he expressed displeasure to DR Congo’s coach about Mbemba’s behavior during the match.
Journalists who filmed the events reported that Regragui approached Mbemba while he was praying, sparking a passionate exchange and gesticulations between the two. The controversy deepened after the game when Mbemba, a former Newcastle defender, received racist and hateful comments on his Instagram post.
Mbemba, addressing the media, expressed his respect for Regragui but hinted at having additional footage that was not broadcast on television. Regragui, speaking to L’Equipe, defended his actions, claiming that Mbemba had spoken badly to him and his assistant on the sidelines before the end of the game.
WHAT CHANCEL MBEMBA SAID
‘I respect the coach who is a great man. The TV cut the videos, but I have them. I don’t need to swing them. I keep my silence, it’s better, that’s how I am. Everyone knows me, I respect everyone, I don’t need to shoot anyone but God’s justice is there.’
REGRAGUI DENIES MAKING ANY RACIST REMARKS
Regragui told L’Equipe: ‘I said to Desabre [Dr Congo’s coach]: ‘Bring him back to me, he’s going crazy, he’s talking nonsense. I didn’t like it because it insinuates a lot of things.
‘So if he has images other than what we see on television, let him take them out, with pleasure. And he’ll see exactly what happened. And that’s what happened… Before I went to shake his hand, he took me and my assistant to task on the sidelines before the end of the game, he spoke badly to us. And Desabre knows it.
‘ And at the end, despite that, I’m going to shake his hand and say, “Why are you talking to me like that?” And then he looks away, like “I’m not shaking your hand”. I held his hand, you can see it on the pictures, and he started screaming all over the place.
“I said, “You’re telling it to yourself!” And he’s like, “You called me an idiot!” It’s okay that he heard that, even though I never said it, but by speaking the way he did, he’s implying that my words are racist, it’s dishonest. Since he only talks about religion in his speech, let him be a little honest with himself.’ the coach said.
NO COMMENTS FROM CAF
At the time of this report, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has not released comment on the incident.
MBEMBA RACIALLY ABUSED OM SOCIAL MEDIA
Following the incident. Congo captain Chancel Mbemba became the target of racist abuse on social media. The abuse unfolded on Mbemba’s Instagram account, where users posted monkey and gorilla emojis, along with racist comments.