This week, the Cameroonian Football Federation (FCF) and its president, Samuel Eto’o, have been rocked by a scandal following the publication of a conversation he had at the start of the year with the club’s president of Victoria United, a team that was then competing in the second division but recently received promotion to the top division.
You can see the conversation and see how the former striker for Barcelona and Inter Milan assures the coach that his team will win.
The Camfoot portal released the texts, and in only a few hours, the national game of football in that nation saw a seismic shift. The debate took place between January 2 and 3, and one of the protagonists was Valentine Gwain, the president of Victoria United, who on December 30 interrupted a game that his club had lost 1-0 by storming the field in the 86th minute out of frustration with the referee’s handling of the situation.
The conversation starts when Gwain phones Eto’o, the president of the federation, to voice his dissatisfaction that the judge’s actions had hurt his team, which was trying to advance. When confronted with this, the former Cameroonian striker responds right away, saying, “there are things we can do, but you have to be very discreet brother.”
In response to the insistence, he says that he had just celebrated New Year and was now on his way home, so he would shortly begin working on it: “I haven’t even had time to get home yet. I’m out, brother. I haven’t even had time to go home and work with the president (of the referees association) because I can’t call the referees directly and tell them to be careful. But I can work with the president.”
Cameroonian Football Federation, President, Samuel Eto’o mentions a conversation the two had while in Qatar for the World Cup on a number of occasions, although he never mentions what they talked about. According to the portal, he assured Gwain that Victoria United would be promoted, as Gwain had helped him in his campaign for the presidency.
“You stay calm, we give you your three points and we suspend the referee. But let me at least go back to Cameroon,” the former footballer promises him then. “I arrive on the 3rd (of January) at night. So see you in the office on the 4th. But I’m going to rule this referee out anyway. I am disqualifying this referee. On the 4th we will see you in the office, and so I will summon the president of the referees.”
The former Cameroonian footballer consistently insists during the conversation that the meeting be kept out of the public’s and media’s view: “It is better that we see each other discreetly. You even organize two days, invite your women to Yaoundé, meet discreetly, talk and leave.” Additionally, he says that it’s important to get along with the league president since “he has the power and from there, he with his commissions, will be able to suspend even the president of the referees.
Gwain is particularly irritated with Fokoule, the head of the refereeing, whom he accuses of sending a referee to hurt him in the previous game.
When confronted with the remark, Eto’o responds firmly: “No, no, no, no. Our club, Opopo (nickname by which Victoria United is known), must go up to the first division. That’s our goal.” Then he makes a commitment to discuss it in person with the league president and the head of arbitration: “We are going to meet, the three of us, and we are going to talk discreetly, and we are going to fix all that.”
Victoria United won the second division championship in April, earning promotion to the top level. This happens to be the club’s second promotion since Eto’o resumed office, as the club was in third division in 2020. Goalkeeper Idris Youssouf was also dropped from the team in the middle of the season after admitting that the team was rigging games to win the championship in a viral audio he had sent to a friend. # Cameroon