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Cameroon Football Playing More in Courtrooms and Offices

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Cameroon Football Playing More in Courtrooms and Offices

Isifu Wirfengla
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Two normalisation committees have failed to stabilise the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot). For the past eight years, the body has known no legitimate president. Elections are routinely cancelled on grounds of fraud and manipulation. Not long ago, interim president, Seidou Mbombo Njoya, revealed that Fecafoot had lost over $1.7 million in lawsuits.

Today, 5 November 2021, a court session is expected to hold at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), to hear a matter implicating Fecafoot’s ongoing electoral process.

Emmanuel Maboang Kessack, one of the candidates running for president, alleged that fraud and irregularities had been recorded at the grassroots. He pointed out that fictitious clubs had been included on the electoral list as part of a scheme to enable the incumbent retain the presidency.

On 7 September 2021, a judgement by the Conciliation and Arbitration Chamber of the National Olympic Committee, demanded the suspension of the said electoral process. The order was not respected, reason why the former Cameroon international reached out to the Swiss jurisdiction. 

The electoral process is not in tandem with the law on the organisation and promotion of sporting activities in Cameroon, that permits trade unions to also take part in grassroots elections (divisional and regional). They, for instance National Syndicate of Cameroonian Footballers – SYNAFOC, have been involved but only as observers.

FIFA and CAS have cancelled Fecafoot elections several times (2013, 2017 and 2021).  

Many indicators point to the fact the one coming up on 11 December, may not be an exception.

Other candidates running for president are: Jules Denis Onana, Samuel Eto’o and the incumbent.

One federation, two administrations

Interim Fecafoot president Seidou Mbombo Njoya (pic: SMN)

The power tussle over who should pilot the affairs of Fecafoot fiercely resurfaced this week, raising fresh questions on when the years-long administrative crisis would be laid to rest.

A faction has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of interim president Seidou Mbombo Njoya and his allies. They seem to be ready to fight with the last drop of blood.

On Wednesday, interior minister, Paul Atanga Nji, issued a stern warning to the disgruntled band.

“The attention of the minister of territorial administration has been drawn on meetings organised in the name of Fecafoot, by unscrupulous individuals who do not have any mandate to do so,” read the communiqué.

“Mr Seidou Mbombo Njoya remains the sole legal representative and president of the Cameroon Football Federation.”

Just like in February 2021, the minister warned “impostors who, for purely selfish reasons, continue to act and hold meetings in the name of Fecafoot, without any mandate.”

Senator Albert Mbida, leader of the self-proclaimed “legitimate executive” fired back at the minister.

Their strongly worded reply “schooled” the minister on the rationale of their actions. The statement claimed they were the “legitimate executive” of Fecafoot not by chance but as a result of rulings of the Conciliation and Arbitration Chamber and CAS.

The Conciliation and Arbitration Chamber, CAS and the ministry of sports, Mbida argues, are the only competent institutions to dictate the affairs of Fecafoot, not the ministry of territorial administration or FIFA.  

Responding to a complaint from Fecafoot via a letter dated 25 October, World’s football governing body (FIFA) said it is Seidou Mbombo Njoya it recognizes.

The problem

On 15 January this year, CAS annulled the 2018 polls that shot Seidou Mbombo Njoya to the helm of Fecafoot.

The annulment was the consequence of a litigation filed by some amateur clubs like Olympique Meiganga, questioning the integrity of the electoral process.

Instead of appointing another normalisation committee as in the past, FIFA asked Seidou and co to stay on and do ground work for new elections.

The decision baffled many, some of whom vowed to overturn it. They include elements of the General Assembly of Fecafoot of 2009. In 2015 and 2018, they were duly called up by separate normalisation committees to adopt the federation’s statutes. They believe it’s still their right to do so this time.

For this reason, the 2009 GA convened on 12 October 2021 to singlehandedly reclaim their rights. They suspended Seidou Mbombo Njoya as Fecafoot president and appointed Senator Albert Mbida to head a “provisionary executive committee.” 

From the look of things, the statutes adopted on 13 July by Njoya’s version of GA is problematic. The alarm had been raised in a letter by the minister of sport.  The sport minister’s epistolary notified Fecafoot of circumventions of statutory provisions, disregard for decisions of arbitration courts and interrogated the legitimacy of delegates to the 13 July 2021 GA.   

Given that the contested statutes is the cornerstone of the current electoral process, it is probable it hits the rock, no matter how long that might take. The crisis rocking Cameroon’s football ruling body seems far from end.   

That this is happening at a time when Cameroon is expected to come under one umbrella and serve the continent the best Africa Cup of Nations, leaves much to be desired.

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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