CAIRO (AP) — The Confederation of African Football said Tuesday it had rejected an appeal by Tunisia against a $50,000 fine for violent conduct by its players at the African Cup of Nations.

However, CAF did not ban the North African country from the next edition of the tournament — as it had threatened to do — after the Tunisian Football Federation made a "a formal apology" for accusing CAF of being biased against it.

The case related to an African Cup quarterfinal match on Jan. 31, when a disputed penalty in the last minute of normal time helped host Equatorial Guinea eliminate Tunisia 2-1 in extra time. Tunisia was leading 1-0 and was seconds away from the semifinals before the penalty changed the game.

Furious Tunisia players aimed punches and kicks at the referee at the end of the game for awarding the spot kick and Tunisian officials accused CAF of bias against it for the contentious decision.

CAF fined Tunisia $50,000 for the behavior of its players, but also demanded the federation apologize by March 31 for making the accusation of bias.

CAF heard Tunisia's appeal in Dakar, Senegal, on March 13, it said, when the Tunisian federation showed "great dignity" and apologized.

"The appeal board noted that during the deliberations, the Tunisian federation began its presentation with a formal apology," CAF said Tuesday in a statement.

Tunisia's appeal was presented by federation vice president Maher Snoussi, CAF said. Tunisian Football Federation President Wadie Jary had led the Tunisian protests in Equatorial Guinea. He resigned from the African Cup's organizing committee and was suspended by CAF until Tunisia apologized.

Tunisia's federation must pay the $50,000, and also pay for damage its players caused in a dressing room at the stadium in Equatorial Guinea after the quarterfinal match. It also lost a $3,000 deposit it paid to CAF for the appeal.

But Tunisia can take part in qualifying for the 2017 African Cup. The qualifiers begin in June.

The Tunisian Football Federation had also appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but said on Monday it would withdraw that appeal.