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Cameroon Football Elections: Single-nationality Condition Signals “Conspiracy” Against Samuel Eto’o

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Cameroon Football Elections: Single-nationality Condition Signals “Conspiracy” Against Samuel Eto’o

Isifu Wirfengla
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A new electoral process is on course to elect new executives of the Cameroon football federation (Fecafoot), following an abrupt termination of Seidou Mbombo Njoya’s mandate in January 2021 by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).  

If Samuel Eto’o is disqualified from the race to rule Fecafoot, it would have been a well-hatched conspiracy against his candidacy, not his dual nationality.

Though the four-time African Player of the Year has not declared his candidacy, there is growing conviction that he will do so in the coming weeks.

Talking to the press on Monday 30 August, the head of Fecafoot’s electoral commission, Magistrate Gilbert Schlick, hinted that aspiring candidates possessing dual nationality will not be allowed into contention.

Since then, social media and news sites are running amok with claims that the former Inter Milan and Barcelona star is ineligible as he picked up Spanish nationality in October 2007 while he played for the Catalan giants.

Unless a new dual nationality regulation surfaces, Article 36 of the Fecafoot statute says any candidate vying to become a member of the Executive Committee of the association must “be a Cameroonian citizen enjoying their civic rights; be aged 21 and at most 75; not have been definitively sentenced for more than three months etc.”

These clauses are amplified by the body’s electoral code in force, adopted by the General Assembly on 13 July 2021.

Remember legendary goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell, who also possesses dual nationality, contested the previous elections and lost to Mbombo Njoya.

The infamous rift

After helping Mbomba Njoya win the disqualified 12 December 2018 elections, reports say Samuel Eto’o now wants the office himself.

Despite not declaring the intent publicly yet, the subtle rift between Eto’o and his former henchman speaks volumes. Early last month, the suspension of Fecafoot Secretary General, Benjamin Didier Banlock, confirmed rumours about election tensions and disagreements between him and his boss, Mbombo Njoya.   

Sooner, it will be clearer if Banlock will be rooting for AFCON’s all-time top scorer or others like ex-footballer Emmanuel Maboang Kessack who officially announced his candidature at a press conference on Monday 30 August in Yaounde.

“Eto’o the future of football”

Inspired by the protracted crisis and the need to rebuild the image of Cameroon football, a collective of young Cameroonians has launched an appeal for the candidacy of Samuel Eto’o for the upcoming elections.

The online petition is aimed at drawing Eto’o’s attention to the need to take his responsibilities and save the legacy that he and other Indomitable Lions sweated to build.

Through an account on change.org, Carole Martine Tamba Mani, co-founder of Youth Media Africa Communication Agency and publisher of La voix des jeunes newspaper, leads the initiative “Eto’o the future of football” or “Eto’o at Fecafoot, the challenge!”

Talking to Volcanicsport, Carole Martine Tamba Mani said “our motivation is certainly to see a new way of thinking about Cameroon football. Not the greed, corruption, nepotism that has reigned there for some time. We strongly believe that only Samuel Eto’o can.”

At the time of our interview, the campaign had successfully received at least 300 videos through which Eto’o’s fans make an emotional appeal to him to contest. Their fast-growing Facebook had more than 4000 followers while close to 1200 persons had signed the petition.

Tamba Mani who says “our target is five million Cameroonians,” believes their candidate is not happy with the bad state of football and will fulfil their wish.  

“There is everything to be redone and that must be done with someone who has a crazy love for football. And this is why we say that Samuel Eto’o can!”

“One can never be big for one’s country. Everyone knows Samuel Eto’o’s love for football and for Cameroon. He is therefore not old to be president of Fecafoot, but mature and experienced enough to manage this federation. He has the means and the capacity.”

It remains to be seen if one of Africa’s all-time greatest footballers truly desires to come to the rescue of his favourite sport.    

Apart from Jules Denis Onana, other potential candidates still to officialise their intents ahead of the December 11 elections are former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder, interim Fecafoot president Seidou Mbombo Njoya etc.

Two normalisation committees have tried in vain to stabilise Fecafoot administratively. For the past eight years, the Tsinga-based football house has known no legitimate president as elections are routinely cancelled on grounds of fraud and manipulation. Worst still, the leadership tussle has seen the federation lose over $1.7 million in lawsuits versus disgruntled parties.

Isifu Wirfengla
Isifu Wirfengla

Isifu Michael WIRFENGLA is holder of a Bsc. in Journalism. He has five years of broadcast experience. Apart from freelance/sports reporting, he is a practising/trained football Referee in Cameroon and Communicator for the Ministry of Justice in Yaounde.

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