Accusations of theft & lies – crowd trouble & controversy shrouds Royal AM v TP Mazembe clash

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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 09: Tussle in the crowd during the CAF Confederation Cup play-offs, leg 2 match between Royal AM and TP Mazembe at Moses Mabidha Stadium on November 09, 2022 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 09: Tussle in the crowd during the CAF Confederation Cup play-offs, leg 2 match between Royal AM and TP Mazembe at Moses Mabidha Stadium on November 09, 2022 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

Accusations of theft and lies, as well as crowd trouble, shrouded Wednesday's CAF Confederation clash between Royal AM and Congolese giants TP Mazembe.

Royal AM crashed out of the CAF Confederation Cup on Wednesday after suffering a 1-0 (3-0 aggregate) defeat to DR Congo side TP Mazembe at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

READ | Gallants secure CAF Confed Cup group stage spot

The encounter was shrouded in controversy from start to finish as Mazembe issued statements prior to the match condemning previous comments made by Royal AM owner Shauwn Mkhize revealing that a complaint had been lodged with CAF.

Mkhize had accused Mazembe of creating a hostile environment during the first leg of their encounter, which was perceived as slander and false accusations by their president, Moïse Katumbi.

TP Mazembe's letter to the Confederation of African football:

During a press conference held by Ms. Mkhize, the president of Royal AM made particularly serious and appalling remarks accusing TP Mazembe of ill-treatment of her and her club. These accusations arouse my deepest indignation because they are pure and simple lies.

"By the present, I have the honor to denounce to you the false allegations of Mrs. Mkhize taken again in a press article which I enclose in appendix. The comments made by Ms. Mkhize are all the more shocking as:

1. During the meeting, Ms. Mkhize refused to take a seat in the dais in which places were, as required by custom and the rules of hospitality, reserved for her and the leaders of the visiting club.

2. Having noted that the president of the Royal AM had taken her place among the public in the central stand, I took the initiative of moving to join her and suggest that she take the place reserved for her by my side. Ms. Mkhize declined my invitation, preferring to stay in the central stand.

3. The match took place in a stadium with a low occupancy rate due to the match being played on a working weekday. The images broadcast by television attest to this.

4. To date, TP Mazembe has never failed in its hospitality duties towards visiting clubs. Including clubs from South Africa. Some of them, notably Mamelodi Sundown, have even won on the lawn of TP Mazembe without arousing the slightest hostile reaction from the club's supporters.

5. The match commissioner can confirm that the match took place in the most perfect correctness.

Beyond the regrettable false allegations of the president of Royal AM, I regret to note that Mrs. Mkhize's remarks contain totally unacceptable racist insinuations against which I express my deepest indignation and my greatest disgust. The Disciplinary Committee of CAF should be seized in order to assess the content. These remarks are unworthy of an African and especially South African sister, who knows in history the weight of words, when one treats his fellow man of “bush men, half naked”. Those who say such things have no place in a football stadium.

In this context and in view of the imminence of the return match, I invite CAF to ensure the good performance of the return match and the safety of TP Mazembe supporters.

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Be assured, Mr. President, of the expression of my sentiments of high consideration.

Full statement from TP Mazembe available here.

Accusations of theft at the Moses Mabhida Stadium

Matters then escalated during the match itself when, after smatterings of crowd trouble, Mazembe took to social media at half-time to allege that numerous items had been stolen from the players' locker room, including passports and cellphones.

"Resumption in Durban. The players resume with a big blow behind. Several effects stolen from the locker room during the first half (passports and telephones)," the club's official account shared on Twitter.

This is a developing story. Further updates will be provided in due course.

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