In the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Round of 16 clash between Senegal and Ivory Coast, Sadio Mane’s reckless tackle on Ivorian midfielder Ibrahim Sangare stirred controversy as the Liverpool star escaped a red card. Although the incident did not alter the ultimate outcome, with Ivory Coast eliminating the defending champions on penalties, football enthusiasts expressed dissatisfaction with the refereeing decisions.
IFAB Laws of the Game dictate that a tackle endangering the safety of an opponent, especially with excessive force or brutality, should be considered serious foul play. Replays revealed Mane’s studs-up challenge on Sangare’s leg, a move that, by the rules, could warrant a red card. However, Gabonese referee Pierre Ghislain Atcho opted for a yellow card, and VAR did not intervene to review the tackle.
Fans took to social media to voice their discontent, criticizing the officiating and questioning VAR’s failure to address Mane’s dangerous tackle. The incident sparked outrage, with many fans highlighting the potential severity of the tackle and asserting that Mane was fortunate not to receive a straight red card.
The controversy adds a talking point to AFCON’s otherwise praised refereeing standards, emphasizing the impact and scrutiny of VAR decisions in high-stakes matches.