Written By : Leah De-Graft Takyi
In a dramatic turn of events, Samuel Eto'o, the legendary former African Player of the Year and current president of the Cameroon Football Federation, tendered his resignation on February 5, 2024. Allegations of improper conduct, match-fixing, and corruption surrounded Eto'o, prompting his decision. However, the federation's executive committee, in a meeting held in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, unanimously dismissed Eto'o's resignation.
The executive committee convened to assess the national team's performance in the Africa Cup of Nations. During the meeting, Eto'o voluntarily offered to step down, encouraging other committee members to follow suit. After extensive discussions, the committee expressed unwavering confidence in Eto'o's leadership and rejected his resignation. The federation's official statement did not disclose additional decisions or outcomes from the meeting.
Cameroon's football journey faced a setback as they secured a late victory in their final group game but were subsequently eliminated by Nigeria in the round of 16, showcasing a lackluster performance.
Eto'o has been under the cloud of corruption allegations for years. Recently, The Athletic reported obtaining evidence, including WhatsApp messages, emails, letters, and audio recordings, supporting accusations of match-fixing, abuse of power, physical threats, incitement of violence, and spreading false information against Eto'o. These allegations have been submitted to FIFA's ethics committee and are concurrently under investigation by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The CAF is already examining "serious" allegations made by Cameroonian football stakeholders against Eto'o. While the federation emphasizes Eto'o's presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a judicial body, concerns have emerged regarding his ambassadorial role with a sports betting company, potentially breaching the federation's codes.
Cameroon's football landscape has grappled with various challenges, including government interference, corruption allegations, and unfulfilled promises from soccer leaders. Eto'o, a four-time World Cup participant for Cameroon between 1998 and 2014, assumed the presidency in December 2021 with the ambitious goal of rebuilding and advancing football in the country. However, his tenure has been overshadowed by allegations and controversy, culminating in a recent unsuccessful attempt to resign, rebuffed by the federation's executive committee.