Football: Eto’o angered about possible delay of AFCON

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Wednesday, 22 December 2021 12:36

Samuel Eto'o on 24 October 2021 in Turkey. © ESRA BILGIN/Anadolu Agency via AFP

As reports claiming that the AFCON will be postponed circulate, Samuel Eto'o has expressed his exasperation. The former international football star has just been elected head of the Cameroon Football Federation and says he will “devote all his energy to ensuring that this African Cup of Nations is held.”

“We are very clear about our commitment to making [the Africa Cup of Nations] a success in Cameroon. […] We will all be in Cameroon in a few weeks,” said Patrice Motsepe on the evening of 20 December. Although rumours continue to circulate that CAN, which is due to be held in Cameroon from 9 January to 6 February, will be postponed, the head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has reassured that this is not the case.

“We can see the extent of the commitments that have been made to ensure that the problems mentioned in recent days are resolved,” he said. “We are going to hold this CAN, in partnership with the government of Cameroon, the people of Cameroon, CAF and the new president of the Cameroonian Federation, Samuel Eto’o. It will be a successful CAN, the most successful of all!”

These statements come as Samuel Eto’o, recently elected head of the Cameroonian Football Federation (Fecafoot), made a real fuss on Monday. “I do not understand why it would not take place,” he said, when asked by our colleagues at Canal + Sport Africa if CAN will be postponed. The former international footballer calmly but angrily said that Fecafoot will “devote all its energy to ensuring that this African Cup of Nations is held.”

“Some Africans are still complicit”

“Give me one good reason why the African Cup of Nations should not take place! Otherwise, we are just being treated the same way we have always been treated: we are less than nothing and we must always suffer,” he said, pointing out that Europe and Africa are treated differently. “The Euro was played when we were in the middle of a pandemic, with full stadiums. There were no incidents, and we played in several European cities.”

He insisted that “we should be told things clearly”, before regretting the fact that “some Africans are still complicit and continue to do things in this way.”

Translation: #TDA 🌍 – @SamuelEtoo, the new president of FECAFOOT 🇨🇲

@SamuelEtoo, the new president of FECAFOOT, has spoken out on whether or not the next CAN will be held. And he makes no effort to hide his exasperation…

#CAN2021

Over the past several days, the International Football Federation (Fifa) has been pressuring Eto’o to postpone CAN again. On 19 December, Fifa’s President Gianni Infantino asked the CAN’s executive committee, which met in Doha, to defer the event. In addition to the ongoing health crisis, Infantino is concerned about the impact that holding the CAN on the scheduled dates could have on the World Cup, which is due to take place from 3 to 12 February in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Fifa President is said to have mentioned 2023 as a possible date for holding CAN 2021, which has already been postponed once.

Infantino is backed by the European Club Association, which agrees that CAN should be rescheduled due to the emergence of the new variant Omicron. The body, which is chaired by PSG President Nasser al-Khelaïfi, has threatened to prevent its players from taking part in the competition. In response, on 16 December, the Cameroonian authorities announced increased health control measures, including compulsory vaccination for spectators wishing to attend matches and introducing systematic tests for players and technical teams.

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