The Cameroon Football Federation led by perhaps Cameroon’s most celebrated footballer; Samuel Eto’o Fils has been hit by several legal loses. In just one day, the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS reinstated several officials suspended by Eto’o, and imposed fines on the country’s football governing body.
Many of those reinstated were dismissed in the wake of the General Assembly of FECAFOOT that took place on August 27, 2022, but whose resolutions have now been qualified by CAS as “null and void.”
The said General Assembly of FECAFOOT resulted in the summary dismissal of Mr. Guibai Gatama from the Executive Committee of FECAFOOT, the dissolution of the Cameroon Professional Football League (CPFL) led by General Pierre Semengue, as well as the proposal to increase the term of office of the President of FECAFOOT from four years to seven, among others.
CAS has in an August 15, 2023, ruling reversed all these decisions. The Court of Arbitration for Sports reinstated the Cameroon Professional Football League, LFPC of General Pierre Semengue. It also reinstated the following personalities who were suspended by Samuel Eto’o: the President of the West Regional League of FECAFOOT, Mr. Koedem, the head of FECAFOOT’s Electoral Commission, Magistrate Gilbert Schlick, and Mr. Guibai Gatama as member of the Executive Committee of FECAFOOT. In addition, Panthère Sportive du Nde have been reinstated in the Top tier and FECAFOOT. The team reportedly won promotion to the Elite 1 championship on the basis of its victories on the pitch, but for some reason, FECAFOOT declared that it lost some encounters by forfeiture, and therefore would not play in the Elite 1 championship.
“In view of all the foregoing considerations, the arbitral panel concludes that the FECAFOOT General Assembly of August 27, 2022, was not convened according to the rules and that, in accordance with article 22 of the FECAFOOT bylaws, the said meeting therefore did not have the power to validly adopt decisions. It follows that the resolutions adopted at the FECAFOOT General Meeting of August 27, 2022, are null and void,” CAS said in an August 15 statement.
But it’s not only the CAS judgement that’s making news. Samuel Eto’o is also being probed over match-fixing claims.
In essence, the Confederation of African Football, CAF has opened investigations into accusations of “inappropriate conduct” by the President of the Cameroon Football Federation, Samuel Eto’o Fils.
In an August 9 communique, CAF said it had received “written requests from several Cameroonian soccer stakeholders for the examination and investigation of certain alleged inappropriate conduct of Mr. Samuel Eto’o, President of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT)”.
The continental football governing body did not say what the exact acts of misconduct allegedly committed by Eto’o are but noted that they are “prima facie serious.” But Mr. Eto’o “is presumed innocent until an appropriate judicial body concludes otherwise.”
“CAF will make no further announcements while the investigations are underway and will only make public statements when the proceedings are concluded,” the release states.
The investigations come against the backdrop of increasing complaints alleging that Samuel Eto’o’s tenure at the top of football governance in the country lacks accountability, and that it is riddled with scandal.
A July-18 audio alleges match-fixing between Samuel Eto’o and the President of a Tier II club favoring the club’s promotion to the top Tier championship. Both Eto’o and the club president have denied the authenticity of that audio.
In July, an association of Cameroonian amateur clubs lodged a complaint against Eto’o with the ethics committees of FECAFOOT, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the International Football Federation (FIFA), alleging match-fixing, aggravated corruption, match manipulation, incitement to hatred and violence, attacks on moral and physical integrity and the propagation of false information.
Besides allegations of match –fixing, Samuel Eto’o has also been accused of destroying the international careers of some national team players, including Manchester United shot stopper, Andre Onana.
Onana was asked to leave the Cameroon National Team during the World Cup in Qatar, allegedly for disrespecting the guidelines of the coach, but many believe it was Eto’o who forced the keeper out of the den.
“Onana’s call up to the national team depends on the president of the Federation. I asked Eto’o a formal question about André’s future, he replied that his international career was over,” said Henry Njalla Quan, the former vice President of the Federation who fell out of grace with the FECAFOOT boss, after questioning his management style.
In a June 23 confidential letter to the FECAFOOT President, Mr. Njalla Quan also complained that as Vice President of FECAFOOT and chair of the Marketing Commission, he was left “in the dark” concerning the financial transactions of FECAFOOT.
“There seems to be no transparency in the circulation of information relating to financial and administrative operations,” he complained, noting that he didn’t have any idea about the sources of income of FECAFOOT, and how the money was spent.
Njalla Quan also complained about reports of “overbilling scandals involving some staff of the federation,” and said it was paradoxical that FECAFOOT was still owing many of the service providers that supposedly inflated the bills.
Eto’o has since denied any wrongdoing, describing Njalla Quan’s allegations as “lies.” He however suspended Njalla Quan from the Executive Committee of the Cameroon Football governing body. If the match-fixing allegations prove true, it would mark a further stain on a man who had a glittering career as a footballer, but whose management of football is riddled with scandal.