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Cameroon - Fécafoot: Eto'o juggles with a CAS ruling

Samuel Eto'o sort de ses gonds
Cameroon - Fécafoot: Eto'o juggles with a CAS ruling

At the Fédération Camerounaise de Football (Fécafoot), the implementation of the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport declaring the resolutions of the General Assembly of August 27, 2022 "null and void" is meeting with resistance.

Fécafoot and its president continue to resist CAS resolutions

In Cameroon, the ball isn't always rolling. The stadiums have given way to a veritable legal battlefield. The situation has not improved since the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued its verdict on August 15, 2023 in the case between Guibaï Gatama et al. and the Cameroon Football Federation (Fécafoot).

CAS declared "null and void" the resolutions taken by Fécafoot at its General Assembly on August 27, 2022. The ruling was intended to restore order to Cameroonian soccer, but has met with fierce resistance from the body headed by former footballer Samuel Eto'o.

The François Kouedem case

One of the most contentious points in this affair revolves around François Kouedem, who has been suspended from his position as president of the Ligue de l'Ouest for almost two years. Fécafoot maintains its position, even though article 15 paragraph 2 of its statutes stipulates that: "Any suspension must be confirmed at the next General Meeting by at least two-thirds (2/3) of the valid votes cast, failing which it is immediately lifted."

In the opinion of a legal expert who requested anonymity, the resolutions of the Fécafoot General Assembly of August 27, 2022 were declared null and void by CAS. "Consequently, Mr. Kouedem's suspension is automatically lifted. That's what the Statutes say", explains the expert.

The case of jurisdictional bodies

At its August 27, 2022 session, the Fécafoot General Assembly elected the members of its various jurisdictional bodies. This point was included in resolution N°15 of the final communiqué of the meeting. As the CAS has declared resolution N°15 null and void," explains the lawyer, "the members elected to the jurisdictional bodies at the Assembly of August 27, 2022 automatically lose their status, and the decisions taken by them since the date of their election are simply null and void.

The problem is that Fécafoot doesn't have the same approach. It maintains the bodies dissolved by CAS. Thus, on September 4 2023, the president of the Ethics Chamber notified Donald Ngameni, president of the Unisport club in Haut Nkam, of his definitive exclusion from all football-related activities. A decision deemed "illegal and illegitimate (which) attests to Fécafoot's determination not to comply with the rules governing the practice of soccer at national and international level", argue Ngameni's counsel. They promise to take the case to CAS.

The Panthère and Ligue de Football Professionnel cases

Following his logic, the General Secretary of Fécafoot also announced that Panthère du Ndé would remain in the second division, and that the Professional Football League of Cameroon (LFPC), which should be rehabilitated, would be dissolved. "This is a denial of reality on the part of the Federation, which is showing extreme bad faith in its assessment of the CAS ruling", reacted a former Fécafoot employee.

For him, there is no doubt that the orders came from the boss of Cameroonian soccer. A Samuel Eto'o who "remains in a posture of arm-wrestling and settling scores with all those soccer players who have dared to criticize his mode of governance", he says.

What Fécafoot risks

It is important to note that article 14 paragraph 1.a of the FIFA Statutes stipulates that member associations are obliged to observe at all times the Statutes, regulations, directives and decisions of FIFA's governing bodies, as well as those of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Paragraph 3 of the same article implies that the violation of paragraph 1.a entails sanctions. These range from "temporary suspension with immediate effect" to "exclusion" of the member association concerned by the FIFA Council.

Fécafoot may well be in for a nasty surprise, as certain stakeholders, notably the Panthère du Ndé club, have already referred the matter to FIFA, pointing out Fécafoot's failure to comply with the CAS decision of August 15, 2023. This affair is far from over.

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