Soccer-Cameroon federation president Eto’o and coach in angry exchange


FILE PHOTO: President of the Cameroonian Football Federation and former professional footballer Samuel Eto'o speaks on the day of the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha,/File Photo

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon football was plunged deeper into crisis on Tuesday when a meeting between football federation president Samuel Eto'o and the country's new Belgian coach Marc Brys turned into an angry showdown.

It was the first time Eto'o was meeting Brys, who was appointed by the country’s sports ministry in early April without any input from the Cameroon Football Federation, setting up a standoff between the two.

Brys had been invited for a "working session" by Eto’o as Cameroon prepare for World Cup qualifiers next month, but several of his support staff, also appointed by the sports ministry, were refused entry to the FECAFOOT federation building in Yaounde.

Video circulating on several social media sites (@AllezLesLions), filmed by reporters, show Eto’o welcoming Brys but their exchanges quickly turned into a melodrama.

First Eto’o angrily kicked out a ministry official who wanted to attend the meeting, and then he had a fiery exchange with Brys, who left immediately.

A statement is expected later from FECAFOOT, who had expressed a willingness to work with the Belgian despite initially slamming his appointment as a unilateral decision by sports minister Narcisse Mouelle Kombito.

Normally, the football federation would appoint and pay its coaches but in some African countries this is done by the government, especially when federations are cash-strapped.

Former African Footballer of the Year Eto’o, who had a storied career playing in Europe, has tried to assert some independence but has also had to tread carefully in a country where matters around the football team are high priority for the government.

Long-standing Cameroon president Paul Biya has often weighed in on team affairs, famously demanding that 38-year-old Roger Milla be included in the squad for the 1990 World Cup.

The veteran striker went on to score key goals as Cameroon became the first African country to reach the quarter-finals.

Cameroon have qualified for eight World Cup tournaments, more than any other African country, making the Indomitable Lions one of the country’s major assets.

They are due to play the Cape Verde Islands in Yaounde on June 8 and Angola away three days later in their latest qualifying games for the 2026 finals in North America.

They beat Mauritius at home and drew away with Libya in their opening two Group D qualifiers last November under Rigobert Song, whose contract was not renewed after Cameroon went out in the last-16 at January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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