Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Eto’o ban causes dismay in soccer-mad Cameroon

Reuters, YAOUNDE

The Cameroonian government is monitoring the situation after a decision by the country’s soccer federation to suspend captain Samuel Eto’o for 15 matches.

The punishment, handed down on Friday after the federation said Eto’o had persuaded teammates not to travel to Algeria last month for a friendly, has led to widespread criticism in the soccer-mad central African country.

Cameroonian Sports Minister Adoum Garoua issued a statement calling for calm and said the government was looking at the possibility of bringing the various parties together.

Cameroon vice captain Enoh Eyong was also banned for two games for his part in the strike that led to the game in Algiers being called off.

Former Cameroon international Roger Milla was among those to criticize the soccer federation.

“It is very shocking and a disaster that a key player like Eto’o be banned from the national team for 15 matches,” said Milla, who played in three World Cup finals. “This effectively means a three-year ban, which is bad for Eto’o, who is 30 years old, and could result in his early retirement from international football. Why should they inflict such a heavy punishment on one player when it is the entire national squad that took the decision? This is not fair.”

The president of the Cameroon players’ trade union, David Mayebi, said the sanction was “too harsh,” and suggested that his organization would consider possible action to force a lifting of the ban.

However, the federation’s secretary general, Sidiki Tombi a Roko, believes Eto’o’s punishment was merited.

“Samuel Eto’o incited the national team not to travel to Algeria and said he was ready to assume full responsibility for any action that was taken,” he said.

The players were upset because they said they had not received money promised for their appearance in a four-nation tournament held in Morocco the previous weekend, but Tombi a Roko said his federation had never promised to pay any bonus.

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