YAOUNDE/MOSCOW: African footballer of the year Samuel Eto’o, reputedly the world’s highest-paid player, has been suspended from national team football for 15 matches by his own Cameroon federation.
FECAFOOT said that Eto’o, who earns £20m-a-year with Russian club Anzhi, was the ring-leader of a players’ strike which forced the cancellation last month of a friendly match in Algeria.
Eto’o has been voted African footballer of the year a record four times and 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 claimed they were not paid money due to them from the Marrakech matches by FECAFOOT. Algeria has claimed $1m compensation for lost revenue.
The star has two weeks to appeal against the ban that would rule 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.
Vice-captain Eyong Enoh, who plays for Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, was given a two-match ban. Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto, another footballer involved in endless disputes with the Cameroonian authorities, received a $2000 fine for not honouring a call-up to the Marrakech tournament.
Eto’o, in a brief response to the disciplinary action, said: “The financial issue was not the main problem here.”