in Cameroon, football in turmoil

The headquarters of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fécafoot), in Yaoundé, in June 2013.

Footballers deprived of competition since the spring, a head of state forced to act as referees, international institutions out of the game… The crisis which has affected Cameroonian football for several months has continued to get bogged down. At issue: the dispute between the Cameroonian Football Federation (Fécafoot) and the Professional Football League of Cameroon (LFPC).

The conflict between the two bodies dates back to October 2019. Fécafoot had suspended the LFPC for “Serious and repeated violation of its obligations”, reproaching it in particular for its mode of governance. The federation had entrusted to a transitional technical committee the powers initially devolved to the league, which the latter had contested before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in February 2020. Well took it: on September 14, the Swiss jurisdiction, after hearing the two parties, ordered the reinstatement of the LFPC in its prerogatives, a position reaffirmed on November 20.

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Despite this arbitration, Fécafoot decided to maintain its decision to withdraw from the league the organization of the first and second division championships, on the grounds that the mandate of its president – the much contested General Pierre Semengue – and that of the Most of its executive committee members were about to expire. She just consented that the general, who has passed the legal age to exercise his mandate (he is 85 years old), remains in office until June 2021.

Paul Biya’s intervention

But in the meantime, the crisis has gained ground. At the end of October, many Elite 1 clubs, the first division, favorable to the federation, voted to dissolve the LFPC. However, the 1er November, a match organized by the same LFPC, with foreign referees on the whistle, played well in Yaoundé between Coton Sport de Garoua and Panthère du Ndé. During November, the Fécafoot and the LFPC even considered organizing their own championship.

Faced with the absurdity of the situation, Paul Biya, the Cameroonian president, had to ask the government to bring together the protagonists to find a solution. Without real success for the moment. Alerted by this unprecedented situation, FIFA for its part recommended, at the beginning of November, that the professional championships resume under the aegis of the federation, ignoring the decision of the CAS and forgetting that the member federations must organize the professional championships by the through bodies with their own legal status, ie leagues.

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“It seems clear that Fécafoot is mainly responsible for this blocking situation, while the CAS has issued a very precise sentence, confides a source to the Ministry of Sports. The State continues to invest itself in order to end the crisis, but we ask the federation and the league to be patriots. “ As a keen observer, Joseph-Antoine Bell, the former goalkeeper of the Indomitable Lions, accuses the federation of being responsible for the crisis: “The CAS has rendered a verdict, Fécafoot should comply and the President of the Republic should not have to intervene. Rather, it would be up to FIFA to do so, in the name of the interests of the players. “

“Distraught” footballers

“Fécafoot gives the impression of wanting to control professional football and make the league a simple subsidiary body”, adds Jean-Samuel Biyong, journalist at Cameroon Radio-Television (CRTV). But the federation does not lack support among the clubs, as Saint Fabien Mvogo, president of Eding Sport de la Lékié, reminds us: “It divides Cameroonian football. All of this is deplorable and I think it’s up to Fécafoot to organize the professional championships. The league was dissolved by a majority of clubs. “

As often when a conflict opposes the governing bodies, it is the players who suffer the consequences. Geremi Njitap, former midfielder of the Indomitable Lions and Real Madrid and president of the National Union of Footballers of Cameroon, does not hide his exasperation: “Both the federation and the league are guilty. Because of ego problems, the players, who are all the same the first players in sport, are taken hostage and completely helpless. These leaders think only of them. Football, the players do not interest them, it is scandalous. “

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The quarrel is all the more unwelcome as Cameroon will host from January 16 to February 7 the African Nations Championship (CHAN), a competition reserved for African players playing in their national championship. “The matches have not resumed, I doubt they will restart quickly and our national team will obviously be penalized since the players will lack competition. It is regrettable for the image of Cameroon ”, deplores Geremi Njitap.


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