Cameroon's soccer leaders are up in arms over the silent attitude of FIFA and CAF, as heavy suspicions of match-fixing hang over the president of the national federation, Samuel Eto'o.
Several influential figures in Cameroonian soccer have just published an open letter addressed to Gianni Infantino and Patrice Motsepe, presidents of FIFA and CAF respectively. These include General Pierre Semengue, President of the Professional Football League and a close friend of President Paul Biya, as well as Guibaï Gatama, member of the Executive Committee, and Henri Njalla Quan, former 4th Vice-President of Fécafoot.
The letter, entitled "Ethics for Africa, ethics for Europe", highlights major concerns about the governance of the Cameroon Football Federation under the presidency of Samuel Eto'o.
Rubiales affair in Spain: a swift reaction from FIFA
The letter refers first and foremost to a recent incident in Spain, where Football Federation President Luis Rubiales was forced to resign after a scandal involving a player at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. On August 20, following La Roja's world title triumph, the Spanish soccer boss grabbed Jennifer Hermoso's head with both hands and gave her a surprise kiss on the mouth. FIFA reacted swiftly by suspending Rubiales for 90 days, demonstrating its firm stance on sporting ethics.
The Eto'o case in Cameroon: silence from FIFA and CAF
However, the letter's signatories are astonished by FIFA and CAF's silence in the face of more serious cases within the Cameroon Football Association. In June 2022, Samuel Eto'o, president of CAF, was sentenced to prison for tax fraud in Spain. Following this conviction, and despite certain provisions of the Fécafoot statutes, "Mr Samuel Eto'o has refused to leave his post and continues to impose himself illegally as president of Fécafoot", they write.
Another date, another fact: in December 2022, the Fécafoot boss was filmed violently assaulting a young Algerian youtuber. Later, on May 26, 2023, the former Cameroon captain signed, they say, "in flagrant violation of the provisions of article 27 of the FIFA Code of Ethics", a personal sponsorship contract with a sports betting company.
The signatories of the open letter also refer to allegations of alleged manipulation of match results involving Samuel Eto'o, revealed on July 18, 2023.CAF opened an investigation into these allegations in August 2023, but since then no progress has been reported. FIFA, for its part, has remained silent despite numerous complaints and reminders from Cameroonian soccer stakeholders .
The letter addressed to Infantino and Motsepe concludes with a series of questions: Can you imagine FIFA and UEFA remaining silent when the president of a European soccer association has been suspected of match-fixing, with audio recordings to back it up? Can you imagine FIFA and UEFA keeping quiet while the president of a European soccer federation signed a personal ambassadorship contract with a sports betting operator?
A call for ethics in the face of "two-sided management
The open letter calls on the presidents of FIFA and CAF to address this "two-sided management" and the need to react to the scandals that are undermining public confidence in sporting ethics and the integrity of soccer competitions in Cameroon. The signatories point to the apparent inaction of FIFA and CAF in relation to similar situations in Europe, and call for fair and non-discriminatory treatment of cases of ethical infractions, wherever they occur.