By Florence Mafomemeh
It was a time long coming, but it is finally here. Cameroonians have been yearning for a former player to take over FECAFOOT after a steep decline in the popular sport both at home and of the national team. Chants of joy, jubilation and celebrations erupted on the streets around the nation when former international superstar Samuel Eto’o was elected the 17th president of the very important organization that oversees Cameroonian football.
In a vote of 43–31 on December 11, 2021, the Cameroonian star and international football sensation defeated incumbent Seidou Mbombo Njoya during the general assembly of FECAFOOT. Eto’o takes over just when Cameroon hosts the African Cup of Nations-AFCON 2021 that was delayed by COVID-19 and now runs from January 9 – February 6, 2022.
Reacting to his victory on his Facebook page, the new president said he is humbled. “PRESIDENT OF FECAFOOT I’ll be remembering today as one of the proudest moments of my life. I’m deeply grateful for to be elected as the new president of Fecafoot. Every single vote represents the energy and ambition of our football family to take our beloved sport to a level we’ve never seen before. Let’s get to work ”
Eto’o who played and won championships with FC Barcelona and Inter Milan takes over the Cameroon Football Federation at a perilous time. The organization and sport are going through a turbulent time with internal squabbles in FECAFOOT , mismanagement and allegations of corruption that have demoralized the country’s football from its glorious path. FIFA has intervened several times to end fights between the organization’s directors. Eto’o is expected to mend things and put the sport back on track to its global golden status.
The 40-year-old who also played for Chelsea while making over 50 appearances for the Cameroon national team is adored in Cameroon and admired across the globe. At the peak of his career, he was considered one of the best strikers in the world and he led his country to win two African Cup of Nations titles and an Olympic gold medal.
With the election of the four-time African Footballer of the Year, many are looking forward to great changes after a monumental collapse of Cameroon football. Cameroonians wanted to see a change in the status quo because the people who were calling the shots were politicians who knew nothing about football. They wanted to see someone who has been there and understands the challenges that players go through.
Football in Cameroon is crumbling under the weight of corruption and played more by politicians in the offices than on the field. Cameroonians want to see footballers come back and manage things. They believe that paradigm shift will restore trust in the league and organization. The legendary striker turn administrator said he is ready for the job ahead.
“I couldn’t be more ready to create a new chapter of Cameroonian football as the new president of Fecafoot. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for each and every message of support I’ve received since yesterday’s election. It means everything to me ,” Eto’o said.
The former FC Barcelona and Inter Milan star wasted little time after his election. On January 5, 2022, FECAFOOT announced significant changes that include an increase in the prize money for the Elite One and the subsidies to clubs, after a meeting with the Association of Elite Clubs (ASEC).
Eto’o’s vision for football goes beyond Cameroon. In an interview with africanews, the former Real Madrid star wants to see an African country win the World Cup.
Eto’o who is married with five children is the third former Cameroonian footballer to head the 59 year-old institution, after Emmanuel Mve Elemva and Pascal Owona Baylon.