Cameroonian Football Federation president and former star player Samuel Eto’o apologized for kicking a man to the ground in what he called a “violent altercation” outside a World Cup stadium early on Tuesday.
Eto’o had paused to pose for photographs with fans near Stadium 974 after Brazil beat South Korea 4-1. A video originally posted on social media by newspaper La Opinion showed him then reacting to comments by a man holding a camera.
The former Barcelona and Inter forward was initially held back by people in his entourage, but he then got clear and appeared to aim a kick at the man, who fell backwards to the ground.
“I had a violent altercation with a person who was probably an Algerian supporter,” Eto’o wrote in statements posted in French and English on Twitter, citing a months-long campaign by that country’s fans against Cameroon since their World Cup playoff in March.
“I would like to apologize for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality,” said Eto’o, who has represented Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee as a Global Legacy Ambassador since 2019.
The man, Algerian social media personality Said Mamouni, later published a video on YouTube saying he was the person who was attacked, and that he was at a Qatari police station to file a complaint against Eto’o.
“Samuel had a fight with me. He hit me, and the one accompanying him pushed me. I’m here to lodge a complaint and he also smashed my camera,” Mamouni said.
He said that Eto’o became violent after Mamouni asked him whether he had bribed Gambian referee Bakary Gassama in a controversial World Cup qualifying game between Cameroon and Algeria. Cameroon won the second leg 2-1 in the final moments of the match and qualified for the World Cup on the away goals rule.
Eto’o has been in Qatar as head of the delegation from Cameroon, who were eliminated in the group stage last week.
“I have been the target of insults and allegations of cheating without any evidence,” he wrote on Tuesday. ”I pledge to continue to resist the relentless provocation and daily harassment of some Algerian supporters.”
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