Match-fixing accusations have been leveled against Samuel Eto’o, the president of FECAFOOT, the Cameroonian football federation. The accusations were fueled by a leaked phone call between Samuel Eto’o and Valentine Gwain who owns Victoria United (Opopo), the Elite Two team that entered Elite One after winning the season with 46 points. In the leaked call, the FECAFOOT president can be heard saying: “Opopo must enter the first division [ed. note: Elite One]. This is our goal.”
According to Italian media La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Samuel Eto’o said this in his defense: “I was chatting with a friend, someone who invests in football and wants to transform his club into one of the best in Cameroon. I just reassured him saying that I would have done everything to make sure his team is not affected by refereeing errors.”
That explanation seems not to be enough for local actors accusing the FECAFOOT president. Denouncing a “reprehensible promise”, they believe Victoria United was favored by the football federation this season thanks to a vast match-fixing network that involves referees. Truly, this season some of Victoria United’s matches were marred with incidents related to the quality of the refereeing. An example is the match against Unisport, on February 12, during matchday 14 of the league season. During the match, Unisport supporters invaded the stadium to contest the refereeing decisions.
"We fix matches”
After the said match, an audio recording confirmed the fixing suspicions. "If Donald Ngameni said he doesn’t indulge in match-fixing, that’s his problem. We do it and we are going to win. Ngameni said he doesn't give money to referees, we here, we have money and we give referees," a player, supposedly with Victoria United, can be heard saying in the audio recording.
Donald Ngameni, president of Unisport de Bafang, is the only club owner in Elite Two who has publicly admitted that the two clubs promoted to Elite One this season have been favored by the national football federation. Last April, he publicly burst out after his team lost a match to Dynamo de Douala: "You can't choose which league teams should be promoted." In front of the cameras, he added: "No team has come here just to support others.”
The match-fixing suspicions are also comforted by an anecdote recounted by Joseph Feutcheu, a former member of Fecafoot's Executive Committee (Comex). According to Feutcheu, Samuel Eto’o has boasted in a telephone conversation that he can “relegate any team” he wants.
Let’s note that, according to some local players, in lower divisions, there have always been arrangements benefiting wealthy clubs like Opopo. Valentine Gwain readily confides to those close to him that his ambition is to win the African Champions League, which has eluded Cameroon for years.
Michel Ange Nga