engaged in a standoff, Fecafoot and the State each invoke the support of FIFA

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The president of the Cameroon Football Federation, Samuel Eto’o, at the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, January 27, 2024, during the African Cup of Nations. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

In Cameroon, the standoff between the ministry of sports and the football federation (Fecafoot), chaired by Samuel Eto’o, over the appointment of Marc Brys as coach of the Indomitable Lions, on 1er April, continues with missives. While the national team must face Cape Verde on June 3 in Yaoundé, then Angola seven days later in Douala, as part of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup, the International Football Federation (FIFA), called to arbitrate the dispute, does not take a clear position.

Read also | In Cameroon, the football federation wants to appoint a coach other than the one chosen by the State

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Samuel Eto’o, who complained of not having been associated with the recruitment process of Marc Brys, has not yet recognized the legitimacy of the Belgian technician to occupy this position. The former captain of Cameroon wrote to the Minister of Sports on Monday May 6 to inform him that FIFA had arrested him “about the mechanisms for designating the technical and administrative supervision of the male selection”suggesting that the institution was taking up the cause of Fecafoot.

According to this reading, the FIFA correspondence, signed by Kenny Jean-Marie, the director of the Member Associations division, would open the possibility to Samuel Eto’o to choose his own technical staff or at a minimum to make changes. The response from the Minister of Sports, Narcisse Mouelle Kombi – also a lawyer by training – was not long in coming. In a long letter sent on Tuesday, he criticizes Samuel Eto’o for having truncated, to his advantage, the response from the international body.

Not only does the ministry demand access to the letter initially sent by the president of Fecafoot to FIFA, but it emphasizes that the body “in no way opposes the appointment of Marc Brys and the technical staff”, assures Cyrille Tollo, technical advisor to the minister: “There is an agreement dating from 2015 between the Ministry of Sports and the federation, which stipulates that there is provision of technical supervision for the men’s selection by the State. This is exactly the case with Marc Brys and his staff. »

“We need appeasement”

Called upon to act as justices of the peace, FIFA invited both parties to quickly revise the 2015 convention so that the recruitment prerogatives of the coach and technical management fall solely within the competence of the federation. But the Minister of Sports became more threatening towards Fecafoot by raising the possibility of“control of the use of public funds put into effect [sa] provision by the State.

Read also | Football in Cameroon: Marc Brys “focused on the team”, despite the persistent cold with Samuel Eto’o

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Narcisse Mouelle Kombi also urged Samuel Eto’o “to a frank and healthy collaboration, both with the ministry of sports and with coach Marc Brys and the staff”. A desire confirmed by Cyrille Tollo: “We need calm and serenity. This whole affair has lasted too long and we must concentrate on the next deadlines. » The Indomitable Lions, after the two matches in June, will play qualifications for the 2025 African Cup of Nations (CAN) in Morocco from September to November.

Marc Brys, who is cautiously staying away from this conflict, will theoretically publish on May 11 the list of players summoned to face Cape Verde and Angola, which he will have to communicate beforehand to Fecafoot. The Belgian has also repeatedly repeated his desire to meet and work with Samuel Eto’o. A proposal that the former FC Barcelona and Inter Milan striker has so far pointedly ignored.

Alexis Billebault

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