- In recent years it happened to Hugo Bros, it happened to Clarence Seedorf, and penalties had to be paid for that
- The Minister of Sports was in February 2022 publicly humiliated by FECAFOOT President, for cautioning against the wrongful termination of Coach Conceicao’s contract
- Many football fans especially supporters of Samuel Eto’o hailed him, as a strong man, for challenging the minister .
- But the real principal and secret reason to sack Conceicao, was a deal to bring in Song Bahanag as Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions, even though he had failed as Coach of U 23 and Lions A
- Then later the sanction that could have avoided came, with FECAFOOT ordered by FIFA and CAS to pay over 1 billion FCFA to Conceicao . Now, FECAFOOT is in a situation that it cannot turn to the Sports Ministry for financial assistance .
One of the major faults that successive management of FECAFOOT have committed in the last decade, has been the wrongful termination of the contacts of coaches of the senior national football team (Indomitable Lions).
The matters have always ended up at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, and with FECAFOOT always losing every case, and being ordered to pay millions of francs CFA to each of the sacked coaches for wrongful termination of contacts.
If a coach fails to attain the objectives as were agreed in the contract he signed with the Federation, then the employer has the right to sack him. The coach in such a situation would not protest or go to court if sacked. But if a coach is sacked in violation of the terms of the contract, that is where there is a problem…
The Real Cause Of The Problem
The real cause behind Cameroon’s wrongful termination of the contracts of coaches is that any person that is FECAFOOT president, wants to appoint his own coach. Then they also do worsen things with their wrong approach to terminate the contracts of the coaches they meet.
In Europe and elsewhere, we hear from time to the time the termination of contracts of coaches. But in Europe one rarely finds a situation where the termination of the contract of a coach, ends up in court. This is because things are done in a professional way. A Federation or a club would inform a coach that they don’t want to continue with him again, for one reason or the other. The two parties would discuss the terms of separation, especially the financial terms. The two parties would definitely arrive at an agreement, the coach is paid whatever is agreed, and he leaves. No fight, no noise.
The brutal Sacking Of Hugo Bros And Seedorf
But with the Cameroon Football Federation, the story is different. No professionalism, too much amateurism! No dialogue. Coaches only hear that they have been sacked.
FECAFOOT even sacked Coach Hugo Bros who won the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), in neighbouring Gabon. He dragged FECAFOOT to the Court of Arbitration for Sports. At the end of the case, the court ordered FECAFOOT to pay for the wrongful termination of his contract. FECAFOOT cried that it did not have money, and finally it was the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education that paid the money, to avoid the suspension of Cameroon from international matches, by the World governing football authority, FIFA.
It was the same thing later with the Dutch man and former international football player, Clarence Seedorf, who was recruited to replace Hugo Bros. After the mediocre performance of the national football team at the African Cup of Nations that Egypt hosted in 2019, Seedorf was fired. He sued FECFOOT for wrongful termination of contract. He won the case, and FECAFOOT was ordered to pay Seedorf. Again, FECAFOOT cried out that there was no money and the Government through the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, paid.
Fortunately the penalties that had to be paid were comparatives not very big amounts. The total amount of money that the Court of Arbitration for Sports separately ruled that should be paid to Hugo Bros and Clarence Seerdorf for the wrongful termination of their contacts was less than 500 million FCFA.
Wrongful Termination Of Conceicao’s Contract
Samuel Eto’o is on record to had blasted FECAFOOT Presidents in recent years of “amateurism”, So sports observers had expected Eto’o to manifest a sense of professionalism in the handling of issues when he became President of FECAFOOT, following his election on December 11, 2021.
But the way he started off, including the way he sacked the Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions, Antonio Conceicao, after the African Nations Cup that Cameroon hosted from January 9 to February 6, 2022, left many asking questions as to whether he too was not suffering from amateurism.
True that Cameroonians, including our Editoral team, were really heart broken that the Lions did not only fail to win the converted trophy for our country that hosted the continental football festival , but that the team did not even reach the finals, as we were eliminated at the semi -finals by Mohamed Salah’s Egypt. It is also true that the wish of many Cameroonians was that a Cameroonian should be appointed the Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions.
But then it was for the FECAFOOT President and his team to decide on what was right to do, and the right time to do it.
Having said that, it was not surprising that many Cameroonians out of the disappointment that the Lions failed to win the AFCON trophy at home, were demanding for head of Coach Conceicao.
That is what commonly happens in any big football nation. But a good or matured President of the football Federation does not play to the gallery in taking decisions. He does what is right, at the right time and in the right way. He does what he does, taking into consideration the terms of the contact that the Federation signed with the coach, in a bid to avoid inviting a charge of breach of contract against the Federation.
Understanding How Seidou Mbombo Njoya’s FECAFOOT Renewed Conceicao’s Contract
As regard Conceicao’s case, many Cameroonians just assumed that he had failed in his mission since Cameroon failed to win the 2021 AFCON on home soil, and so should leave. But the people in the streets were talking without knowing the real terms of the contract that FECAFOOT signed with Conceicao.
It would be recalled that the first contract that FECAFOOT signed with Conceicao ended last year. The football Federation, which then had as President, Seidou Mbombo Njoya, launched a bid for the recruitment of a coach for the indomitable Lions, and asked for applications. Many applications were received, with many of the applicants being Europeans.
Cameroonian born former football star, Patrick Mboma, who is based in France, also deposited his application. Conceicao was also among the applicants.
After careful evaluation, Seidou Mbombo Njoya’s FECAFOOT recruited Antonio Conceicao (preference of the person they already knew). This raised questions as to why they had wasted all that time and resources, as well as given applicants all the trouble, whereas they would have just gone straight to discuss with Conceicao the terms to renew his contract.
Terms Of Contract Did Not Include Winning AFCON
Meanwhile, in the contract FECAFOOT signed or renewed in September 2021 with the Portuguese, Antonio Conceicao, the Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions was given a mission to attain three major objectives.
- That Cameroon should reach the final of the 2021 AFCON that instead held in early 2022.
- Improve on Cameroon’s position on the FIFA classification.
- Qualify Cameroon for the 2022 World Cup.
It would definitely surprise many Cameroonians, that Conceicao was asked to take Cameroon to the final of AFCON, instead of been asked to win the AFCON. Some football observers think that the logic of Seidou Mbombo Njoya’s FECAFOOT or the Cameroonian authorities was probably that Cameroon should at least improve on its performance, as compared to the first time that the country hosted AFCON. The first African Cup of Nations, AFCON, that Cameroon hosted was in in 1972, and the Cameroon national team whose captain was Emmanuel Mve Elemva (current President of the South Regional Council), was stopped at the semi – final, and ended the competition in the 3rd position.
The AFCON that Cameroon hosted early last year was the second that Cameroon was hosting, coming 50 years after the first. Cameroon failed to improve on its position as compared to 1972, as it still ended on the 3rd position. As far as AFCON was concerned, Coach Conceicao failed to attain the set objective as contained in his contract.
But Conceicao Had Not Failed Yet In The Mission
Meanwhile, as for one of the other two missions that were assigned to Coach Conceicao in his contract With FECAFOOT, Cameroon improved its position on the FIFA ranking by six places at the end of February 2022, as compared to its position by the time the contract was signed in September 2021. This meant that Conceicao succeeded in the second set objective or target that was assigned to him in the contract he signed with FECAFOOT in September 2021.
As regard the third objective or target that FECAFOOD assigned to Conceicao in the contract, by the end of February 2022, Cameroon was still on course for a world cup ticket, following the important victory that was recorded against Côte D’Ivoire in the crucial match in the group phase, to determine the champion of the group. The match took place at the Japoma Stadium in Douala in October 2021, with Cameroonian goal poacher, Karl Toko Ekambi putting a stop to the dream of the Elephants, that needed just a draw to emerge leader of the group.
Thus Conceicao’s report card by the end of February 2022, showed that of the three major assignments that were given to him by FECAFOOT in the contract that was signed in September 2021, he had lost one, won one, and was still on course in the third mission. By FIFA’s way of assessment, Conceicao could not by that end of February 2022 be considered to have failed.
Samuel Eto’o Humiliates Sports Minister
That was why the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, declared in an interview over CRTV after AFCON, that Coach Conceicao would be maintained, and that Cameroon had to avoid the malpractice of sacking coaches every now and then, and been leveled heavy fines by the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
But Eto’o instead humiliated the Spots Minister by issuing a communiqué in which he bluntly told the minister that it was for FECAFOOT to decide the fate the coach. The population shouted excitedly, and hailed Eto’o for putting the minister in his place.
It is true that Eto’o was right to say that following the text, it was for FECAFOOT to decide whether the coach should stay or go. But he would have handled the issue in diplomatic way, instead of playing to the gallery by ridiculing the member of Government in public. More so, it was the Minister of Sports, with whom the FECAFOOT President is supposed to work with, as the head of the technical ministry in charge of sports.
As aforementioned, it was the Ministry of Sports and physical Education that stepped in and paid the penalties for wrongful decisions that were taken by the past leaderships of FECAFOOT, to terminate the contracts of Coach Hugo Bros and Coach Clarence Seedorf.
Eto’o Appoints Song Bahanag
Meanwhile Minister Mouelle Kombi dragged his feet to visa the decision by the President of FECAFOOT, Samuel Eto’o, to wrongfully terminate the contract of Antonio Conceicao as Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions. Eto’o turned to his friend at the Presidency for intervention, and the man as usual manipulated things with his power of, “On The High Instruction”. At that stage Minister Mouelle Kombi had no choice, but to hurriedly visa Eto’o’s appointment of a new technical team of the senior national football team (Indomitable Lions) with Rigobert Song Bahanag as “Manager /Selectioner’, on February 28, 2022.
Eto’o’s supporters celebrated that the he had floored the Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Mouelle Kombi. Also, because of the ‘High Instruction’ that pushed the minister to validate the appointments, some people thought that President Biya was the one that decided on the appointments of Song Bahanag and the other members of the technical team. That of course was not true. President Biya had no hand in the mafia, which was all Eto’o’s affair.
Sebastien Migne Was Contacted By Song
In the appointment of members of the technical team of the Indomitable Lions by FECAFOOT President, Samuel Eto’o, the French man, Sebastien Migne, was appointed “Entraineur / Selectioner’. The issue here is that in an interview with RFI after his appointment, Sebastien Migne, was asked how his appointment came about. He disclosed that he was first contacted by Rogobert Song Bahanag, and then later by Eto’o. He said he knew Song, and that they first met at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) when Song was Head Coach of Lions A, while he was then a member of the technical team of DR Congo’s A team in the competition.
In what Capacity Did Song Contact The Coach?
But there is a question here. In what capacity did Song contact the French man to propose to him a post in the technical team of the Indomitable Lions?. It is curious that Song who was not even a member of FECAFOOT, and who by then had not yet even been appointed Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions, was the one that first contacted Sabastien Migne, to propose to him a place on the technical bench of the Indomitable Lions. This is how Eto’o runs FECAFOOT with his friends. A mafia!
Sources confirm that Eto’o who was accompanied by Song Bahanag on his visit to the Lamido of Garoua, which was part of his campaign in the FECAFOOT Elections, had promised Song the post of Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions, The two Bassa brothers were just waiting for the least opportunity for the promise to be effected. The failure by the Lions to win the 2021 AFCON that was played from January 9 – February 6, 2022 in Cameroon, was an opportunity for them to exploit. Yet there is doubt that the FECAFOOT President knew well the terms of the contract that his predecessor signed with Coach Conceicao.
No Attempts To Dialogue With Conceicao
Meanwhile the problem with the President of FECAFOOT, Samuel Eto’o, in this Conceicao affair was not only about the wrongful decision to terminate the contract of the coach, but also with the way it was done. As earlier indicated, the professional approach would have been for FECAFOOT to inform Conceicao of the Federation’s decision to terminate his contact. And then the two parties, FECAFOOT and Conceicao with his lawyer, would have then discuss and agree on the financial package that the Federation would give as compensation for ending the contract prematurely. It is very likely that if this discussion took place between FECAFOOT and Conceicao, the coach would have accepted an amount less than 500 million FCFA.
But as Conceicao said, FECAFOOT did not contact him on the decision to end the contract.
Conceicao said after AFCON he travelled to Europe with the knowledge of FECAFOOT, only to hear like other members of the public that Song Bahanag had been appointed Head Coach of the senior national team, which meant that he (Conceicao) had been replaced or dismissed.
Later on, Conceicao’s lawyer wrote a number of correspondences to FECAFOOT to demand the payment of his dues, following the wrongful termination his contract. FECAFOOT ought to have been warned by the fact that each time that the lawyer of Conceicao addressed a correspondence to FECAFOOT, he would copy FIFA. Conceicao pleaded for FIFA’s intervention in the matter.
FIFA Demanded That FECAFOOT Pay Huge Amount Demanded By Conceicao
When FIFA finally examined the matter, FECAFOOT was asked to pay the over one billion francs CFA that Conceicao was demanding from the Federation. The amount included charges. There is no doubt too that FIFA was disappointment with the wrong and unfair manner in which FECAFOOT treated the coach.
The Federation sacked the coach without any notification, and ignored his correspondences after the wrongful termination of his contract.
But FECAFOOT rejected the FIFA decision that the Federation should pay the sacked Head Coach of the Indomitable Lions, over one billion francs FCFA.
FECAFOOT Files Appeal At CAS
FECAFOOT filed an appeal against the FIFA judgment at the Court of Arbitration for Sports(CAS). Suffice to say CAS in the ruling on the matter maintained the decision that was taken by FIFA, that FECAFOOT pays Conceicao over 1 billion FCFA. FECAFOOT has not yet paid the money, but there is no way it would avoid to not pay it.
If the Federation continues to delay the payment, at one point FIFA will suspend Cameroon, and that will be a disaster for this football loving nation.
FECAFOOT is in financial difficulties, but then the President of the Federation, Eto’o, cannot like his predecessors go to the same Minister of Sports and Physical Education, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, whom he publicly humiliated over the controversial decision to sack Coach Conceicao, to demand for help. The fans that hailed the humiliation of Minister Kombi later went silent. The issue has become a nightmare to FECAFOOT.
Song’s Poor Performance Has Not Helped Matters
One billion francs CFA is much money that can do a lot for FECAFOOT and clubs. The money can construct a number of proximity stadiums in the country. Now it would be used to pay compensation to a coach whose contract was wrongfully terminated. The Association of Amateur Football Clubs in Cameroon commonly known by the French acronym, ACFAC, in a recent communiqué fumed over “the financial consequences relating to the unilateral termination of Coach Toni Conceicao’s contract”.
The situation is even the more painful to many Cameroonians today, in that the performances of Song Bahanag that Eto’o wrongfully sacked Conceicao in order to appoint him as Head Coach, has not helped matters or brought consolation to football fans. For one thing, Song’s record has indisputably been poor.
But how could it have been otherwise! Song failed as coach of U23, and also failed as coach of Lions A. Then he was instead promoted by Eto’o with an appointment to be coach of the senior national football team, the indomitable lions. Here we are.
This article was written by Joe Dinga Pefok for The Mentor and relayed by kick442.com as an official media partner.