It is a mini-scandal which will certainly leave a stain on the 5th trophy the Indomitable Lions won in Libreville, in Gabon, on 5 February 2017, in the Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON). While the general public hailed the “homage” paid to the late player, Marc Vivien Foe, by the Cameroonian team by wearing his jersey with n˚17, Jean Lambert Nang, a famous sports journalist in Cameroon and Director in charge of Cameroon’s image abroad, at the Ministry of Communication, refuted it. This was on 6 February, just after Marie Louise Foe, widow of the late player who died during the Confederation Cup of Football in France in 2014, read a note of thanks for this homage, on the national television channel CRTV.
“The initiative to wear a customised jersey at the end of the match is solely from the champions, who wanted to surprise their administrative and technical staff by adding a message in English on it”, said Jean Lambert Nang. The journalist continues: “They wanted to show that they are not insensitive to the political situation in Cameroon by proving their attachment to the unity of the country and its bilingual status. Hence the message in English. Unfortunately, in English for ever is different from forever. The graphic designer made a confusion between the two and this is what certainly led of the English language to link the number 17 to Marc Vivien Foé”.
Jean Lambert Nang repeats: I hear a lot journalists, commentators and pundits saying that the 17 on the jersey of the champions is in honour of Marc Vivien Foé. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Just the year of the consecration. If it had been in 2019, it would have been 19. So an homage to whom then?”. In the same line, Vincent de Paul Atangana, chargé of Communication for the Indomitable Lions indicates: “Champion 17 for Champion 2017. So therefore not an homage [for Foe]”.