Referee who ended AFCON game early claims he ‘could have died from heatstroke’

The referee who whistled for full-time early in Tunisia’s Africa Cup of Nations match against Mali fears he may have died of heatstroke.

Janny Sikazwe sparked outrage after sounding the final whistle early twice during the group stage match. Along with blowing his whistle in the 85th minute, which elicited indignation from both sides, he again requested a timeout before the clock reached 90 minutes. [Full Story]

CAF officials asked the teams to return out and finish the game following the premature full-time whistle. Mali, who led 1-0, returned to play, but Tunisia did not.

The North Africans lodged an official protest with the Confederation of African Football, but their appeal was denied, and the outcome remained.

Zambian Sikazwe was then admitted to hospital with sunstroke, and the official has stated that ‘he may have died ‘as a result of it.

“I have seen people going for duties outside the country and come back in a casket,” he said.

“I was very close to coming back like that.

“I was lucky I didn’t go into a coma. It would have been a very different story.

“The doctors told me my body was not cooling down. It would have been just a little time before [I would have gone] into a coma, and that would have been the end.

“I think God told me to end the match. He saved me.”

Cameroon, the host country, has seen temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius throughout the competition, with some teams, most notably Algeria, blaming the heat and excessive humidity as an influence in their outcomes.

Water wasn’t helping…

He added: “The weather was so hot, and the humidity was about 85 percent.

“After the warm-up, I felt the [conditions] were something else. We were trying to drink water but you could not feel the water quenching you – nothing.

“But we [match officials] believe we are soldiers and we go and fight.

“Everything I was putting on was hot. Even the communication equipment, I wanted to throw it away. It was so hot.”

I got so confused…

“I started getting confused. I could not hear anybody,” he added. 

“I reached the point where I could start hearing some noise and I thought someone was communicating with me and people were telling me ‘no you ended the match’. It was a very strange situation.

“I was going through my head to find who told me to end the match. Maybe I was talking to myself, I don’t know. That is how bad the situation was.”

Sikazwe was hospitalized the day after Mali’s disputed 1-0 victory against Tunisia. He had heart, blood, and physical testing. All of his tests, however, came back normal.

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