Home » Bar Mballa Fabrice’s legal X-rays of CAF’s latest outing about Eto’o

Bar Mballa Fabrice’s legal X-rays of CAF’s latest outing about Eto’o

by Lesley Ngwa
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On 9th August 2023, a communiqué from the Confederation of African Football officially disclosed that CAF instances have been seized by several Cameroonian football stakeholders through written statements, to look into and investigate certain alleged reprehensible conduct by Mr. Samuel Etoo in his capacity as the President of the Fédération Camerounaise de Football (FECAFOOT).

At first glance, the said communiqué carefully avoids mentioning the specific breach of conduct contained in the correspondence wherein the various Cameroonian football stakeholders are raising issues against the governance of the current Fecafoot President.

Therefore one is tempted to question what the locus standi of these so called stakeholders is. In other words which instrument gives them the legal capacity to introduce this plaint to CAF directed against the FECAFOOT PRESIDENT?

Be that as it may, in its communication CAF expressly states that they are going to look into these requests based on and in accordance with its Statutes and Regulations.

However, it may be interesting to note that, the Statutes and Regulations of CAF dated March 2021, does not specifically mention or in any way address the notion of stakeholder.

That notwithstanding, one of the principal objectives of CAF as clearly indicated in Article 2 of its Statutes and Regulations, is to manage all forms of football by means of adopting and implementing the necessary or appropriate measures to prevent any infringements of the Statutes, Rules and Regulations as well as any decisions or directives of FIFA. It further states that CAF is required to comply at all times and unreservedly to the principles of good governance, integrity and sportsmanship; as well as with the Statutes, regulations, decisions and directives of FIFA.

Consequently, what is lacking in the Statutes and Regulations of CAF could be found in the Statutes and Regulations of FIFA, and it will automatically become applicable within the context of CAF.

In that light, the FIFA Statutes and Regulations define a stakeholder as a person, entity or organization which is not a member association and/or body of FIFA but has an interest or concern in FIFA’s activities, which may affect or be affected by FIFAs actions, objectives and policies, in particular clubs, players, coaches and professional leagues.

As a result, FIFA highly recommends that all member associations must involve all relevant football stakeholders in their own management structure as per Article 11 of FIFA General Statutes.

Who are stakeholders in the Cameroonian Football?

From the definition propounded in the General Statutes of FIFA, a stakeholder is any person or group (internally or externally) which has an interest in the organization or is affected by its actions. Simply put all those who have interests in the proper management and governance of our local football, its development and growth, especially in conformity with the FIFA Statutes and Regulations may seize FIFA or CAF to intervene in case of any noticeable violations of the principles of good governance which is sacrosanct to FIFA .

It is on this backdrop that on July 21 2023, the Association of Amateur Football Cubs in Cameroon popularly known by its French acronym ACFAC, which is a duly registered legal entity governed by the laws of Cameroon and recognized by FECAFOOT, issued a final communiqué of an extra ordinary emergency executive meeting in which they expressly decided to give mandate to their president to immediately seize FIFA. This was following allegations of match-fixing involving the President of Fecafoot and a club President, due to a leaked recorded telephone conversation of both men in which they were engaged about facilitating the club to gain access to Elite 1 Championship by all means possible including the manipulation of matches in their favor contrary to Article 30 of the FIFA Ethics Code.

It is important to note that on 5th July 2023, the members of ACFAC had issued a letter directed to FIFA, wherein the association was reacting to the serious allegations of unethical conduct raised against the President of FECAFOOT for abusing his office to take advantage of his position for private aims after he signed an endorsement contract with a betting company seriously violating Article 27 of the FIFA Ethics Code.

Suffice to state that ACFACs interest in the alleged transgressions of the FECAFOOT President while in office arose following the alarm bells raised by another stakeholder, Mr. Henry Njalla Quan Junior, former 4th Vice President of FECAFOOT. A onetime very strong ally of Mr. Etoo, the former Executive Bureau member noticing the deviant managerial practices of some of the close collaborators of the President became very vocal about the malpractices at the Federation.

Long before the letters addressed to FIFA by ACFAC, Mr. Henry Njalla Quan Junior has published a letter which he called on FIFA, CAF and the competent government authorities in Cameroon, to denounce the various misdemeanors occurring at the Federation which is seriously breaching the FIFA Statutes and Regulations with respect to good governance, transparency and accountability.

Why the response from CAF rather than an immediate response from FIFA?

Article 31 (2) of the FIFA Ethics Code is to the effect that the Ethics Committee is competent to decide on matters affecting any official bound by the said Code where the said conduct does not fall under the competence of any confederation or member association. The said violations are by an official of member association which is under the jurisdiction of the CAF. For that reason, it will be inappropriate for FIFA to violate its own Statutes and Regulations by interfering directly in a matter, which will be undermining the authority and the jurisdiction of CAF.

FIFA can only seize itself with the matter where no formal investigation has been initiated by the competent confederation or member association 90 days after the matter became known to FIFA, or where the relevant confederation or member association agrees with FIFA to confer the competence regarding the relevant matter on FIFA.

Article 2(3) of the Statutes and General Regulations provides that any person or organization involved in football in Africa has to respect at all times and unreservedly the principles of ethics and fair play enacted by CAF, the principles of integrity and sportsmanship as well as the Statutes, regulations, decisions and directives of CAF and FIFA. Therefore, the communiqué from CAF comes to confirm the fact that she has jurisdiction to investigate the allegations against on official from a member association, which in this case is the President of FECAFOOT.

Conclusively, though it may seem that the noose is beginning to tighten around the neck of FECAFOOOT supreme boss, CAF is remains very cautious by indicating that though the investigation is believed to focus on pretty damning information provided by former FECAFOOT Vice President and other stakeholders of Cameroon Football , the fundamental human rights of Mr. Samuel Etoo shall continue to be upheld as he continues to benefit of the presumption of innocence, until an appropriate judicial body concludes otherwise. Moreover it is well documented that CAF is quite meticulous and diligent in pursuing such an investigation against which may take several months before reaching its final conclusion.

Snr Barrister Mballa Fabrice’s legal X-ray

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