The World’s Football Federation (FIFA) provisionally suspended the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) on the 4 of July 2013. According to a BBC source, this was due to government interference of the FECAFOOT elections, which took place on 19th June 2013. During the period of suspension, Cameroon is not to take part in any regional or international matches, including club matches and friendly matches. In addition, no FECAFOOT member or official shall benefit from any development programmes or training courses during the suspension period.
Article 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statutes oblige member associations to manage their affairs independently with no interference from third parties. During these elections, former FECAFOOT boss Iya Mohammed who doubled as boss of the state owned cotton company, SODECTON, detained by the Cameroon authorities for alleged financial mismanagement of this state-owned cotton company, emerged victorious. The elections were cancelled by FECAFOOT’s appeals committee.
FIFA’s ruling came as a result of the 19 June elections, when FECAFOOT vice president and former transport minister Mr. John Begheni Ndeh installed himself as president on 28 June. Accompanied by the forces of law and order some of whom were stationed at FECAFOOT’s headquarters, Mr. Ndeh took over the federation and suspended the Secretary General Tombi A Roko. This also led to the resignation of FECAFOOT’s first vice president Seidou Mbombo Njoya, who had expected to step in as interim boss.
FECAFOOT has long been plagued by corruption and mismanagement. This has led to the poor performance of the national football team, the indomitable lions. A team which was once Africa’s glory is today classified as one of the weakest football teams on the continent. Cameroonian footballers prefer to play abroad for foreign clubs than to be humiliated back at home by their very own FECAFOOT.
Events leading to this unfortunate situation were alarming and visible. Despite cries from the public and footballers of the corruption and mismanagement of state funds pumped into FECAFOOT, the state remained silent to such cries. Many argue that since Iya Mohammed was a protégée of FIFA it was difficult for the state to intervene in the internal affairs of FECAFOOT. The state therefore allowed a very prestigious institution like FECAFOOT to be humiliated internationally.
A normalisation committee is to be set up as per Article 7 paragraph 2 of the FIFA statutes to revise the FECAFOOT statutes and to organise elections for new office bearers. This normalisation committee will be set up by FIFA in collaboration with the African Football Federation. The suspension will be lifted once the Cameroonian authorities allow the normalisation committee to enter the premises of the headquarters at conduct the said elections.
In as much as FIFA may be right in suspending FECAFOOT provisionally, Cameroon remains a sovereign state and has a right to meddle in matters affecting its wellbeing. Where the state of Cameroon erred was that it allowed an individual like Iya Mohammed to control FECAFOOT and SODECOTON for too long. In allowing such an individual like Iya control two important institutions for long, some state authorities benefited from corrupt dealings that were orchestrated during his era. The great football state, suffered from this state action.
In as much as Cameroon may have learned its lesson or not, it is vital for institutions like FIFA to ensure that institutions like FECAFOOT are not controlled by certain individuals for long. The state also has a say in issues concerning FECAFOOT, but should not take this advantage and usurp the powers of FECAFOOT. The indomitable lions have done no wrong to suffer from corrupt practices from big institutions like FIFA and FECAFOOT. If the state of Cameroon wants to regain its fame in the football circles once again, then it is vital to combat corruption and rethink its governance strategy over institutions like FECAFOOT.
This article is published at http://africanliberty.org/