YAOUNDE: Samuel Eto’o has had his 15-game suspension from international football cancelled, on the instruction of Paul Biya, state President of Cameroon.
Eto’o, reputedly the highest-paid footballer in the world on €20m-a-year with Russia’s Anzhi, was punished by his own federation (FECAFOOT) for being the ring-leader of a players’ strike which forced the cancellation of a friendly match in Algeria in November.
Eto’o, who was voted four times as African Footballer of the Year, has represented the Cameroonian ‘Indomitable Lions’ for more than a decade.
Cameroon had beaten Sudan and drawn with hosts Morocco in a four-nation tournament in Marrakech in October and had been due to wrap up a hectic friendlies schedule against Algeria. Eto’o and his teammates refused to play unless they were paid money due to them from the Marrakech matches. FECAFOOT refused to pay so Eto’o & Co refused to play. The Algerian federation has claimed $1m compensation for lost revenue.
Eto’o was given two weeks to appeal against a ban which would have ruled him out of a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tie in Guinea Bissau next February 29 and 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya in June.
However, Prime Minister Philemon Yang summoned Iya Mohammed, president of FECAFOOT, and told him that President Biya would be grateful if the federation “could do everything possible” to review the punishment. The sanction has now not only been reviewed, it has been cancelled altogether.
Interestingly Mohammed, having demonstrated that he can be ‘leaned on’ very easily and effectively, has just been appointed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to the world federation’s 2014 World Cup organising committee.
No clarification has been issued about vice-captain Eyong Enoh, of Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, who had been given a two-match ban or about Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto who had been fined $2,000 for not honouring a call-up to the Marrakech tournament.