Cameroon’s 2020-2021 Football Season Ends in Uneventful Fashion
Curtains were drawn on Cameroon’s leagues one and two seasons on Wednesday 29 September in Douala. At the Japoma stadium, Coton Sport de Garoua demolished Apejes de Mfou three-one to clinch their record sixteenth title.
In League Two, Racing FC of the West region were crowned champions following their three-two win over OFTA de Kribi in Mbankomo.
One would have expected the thrills, widespread excitement and the enthusiastic mobilisation that traditionally come with such endings. The event was rather sour, short of pomp and went down unnoticed. That’s what Cameroon and the football governing body reap after starting as late as February.
The 2020/2021 football season will go down as one of the most insipid. Born from the ashes of the Covid-19 interrupted season that was cancelled in May 2020, kick-off was lengthily delayed due to a long-standing dispute between the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) and the Professional Football League (LFPC). The bitter tussle over organisational rights saw players, coaches, referees and other chain actors observe an unwanted close-to-a-year holiday.
While the cold war rumbled on, other nations braved the odds and weathered the storms of Covid-19 to get things back to normal. This until the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rescinded a decision that once favoured the LFPC. Its new statement recognised Fecafoot as the legitimate body to take charge of the championship. Measures were then taken to officially kick-start the 2020/2021 season on February 27.
Subventions, the new normal
Football slipped from the rails the moment club administrations resuscitated the unbecoming subvention problems.
Both league one and two club presidents teamed up against playing unless government fulfilled its promise. That of disbursing subventions worth 560 million Fcfa. The Ministry of Sport paid part (200 million Fcfa), and took another engagement to complete it at midseason.
Return legs stopped before they had started when club bosses unanimously downed their tools in want of the remaining subsidies. As a consequence, the leagues’ calendars were disrupted, with Cameroon running against the August deadline set by the confederation of African Football for member associations to file in Champions League and Confederation Cup representatives.
That’s the pressure that obliged Seidou Mbombo Njoya’s Fecafoot to crudely choose temporal pool leaders Fovu Club and Coton Sport for continental competitions this year.
Dependency on subventions is a veritable cankerworm eating up the wellness of so-called professional football in Cameroon. In 2011, as part of the project to create the League (the body charged with growing and standardising the sport), the sport ministry resolved to subsidise participating clubs for a duration of two years. The idea was to assist clubs build sustainable foundations.
Today, there’s no gainsaying that there will be no league football if the government puts an end to subventions. Apart from the likes of Union Sportive, Coton Sport, Bamboutos de Mbouda and Eding Sport de la Lekié, the rest are lagoons of amateurism. Because their socio-economic structures and policies are typically unproductive and unsustainable, some pundits think there is no such thing as professional football in the country.
Every other year, the mystery of the prize money keeps increasing. How professional footballers manage to survive is a story for another day.
Coton Sport bounce back
Coton Sport were crowned champions of the belated season thanks to an emphatic three-one win against Apejes in the title play-off.
It is their first trophy since 2018 and ranks them the most successful club in the history of top flight football. Canon Sportive de Yaounde trail them with ten trophies.
Yesterday in Japoma, Francis Bailang ignited the surge of goals for Coton Sport by converting a first half penalty. Two quick second half goals from Marou Souaibou and Tombi Alemi settled the affair. Leonard Gweth pulled one back for Apejes as defeat was largely inevitable.
Coton Sport headed into Wednesday’s final with memories of their semi-final exits from the CAF Confederation Cup and the Cup of Cameroon. With a squad full of talents and experience, they were well armed against Apejes.
Apejes’ loss was therefore not a surprise same as the title going back where it belongs.
In the first game of the day at Japoma, AS Fortuna drubbed Fovu Club five zero to finish third, their best ever campaign in the League.
By Beng Emmanuel