Victoria United FC is making headlines in Cameroon for the wrong reasons. The Limbe-based club which eased past Elite 2 into Cameroon’s top-flight echelon has been at the center of recent match-fixing and corruption allegations involving their president Nkwain Valentine aka Bobdidy and Samuel Eto’o, the boss of FECAFOOT.
To understand the rise of the ‘strongman’ of Limbe, it will be interesting to go down a few lanes.
Nkwain Valentine aka Bobdidy is a businessman and self-acclaimed billionaire who owns Bobdidy Digital Plastic company based in Limbe.
The one time mascot of Njalla Quan Sports Academy rose from a cameraman to CEO within no time and has not been economical with his riches.
Bobdidy’s love for football was heightened in the 2020 season when he took over as President of Victoria United FC two years after Dr Ndive Thomas, who served as president of the club for a decade.
Victoria United being one of the traditional teams with a long history of successive spells in Cameroon’s top-flight football. The concept of the club has remained for the people by the people, reason for their slogan One People One Power imported by its legendary president Njalla Quan Henry of blessed memory.
All of this changed sometime in 2022 when Bobdidy decided to go solo, making the people’s club his private property.
Victoria United qualified as champions of the 2022 South West Regional championship and represented the region during the national interpools in search of one of two promotion tickets into the national Elite 2.
The path to Elite 2 was an easy one but not without question marks.
During that interpools competition, the club was accused of introducing foreign players from Nigeria to boost the team’s chances of qualifying. The news made headlines and was first denounced by some local journalist in Cameroon. The competition’s top scorer Kanu Desire of Victoria United later bore the name Mbongo Clovis during the team’s spell in Elite 2. Kanou was a left-back who had played for the club for about four seasons but wasn’t retained for the competition. This is among other cases of identity fraud that the team was accused of.
Fast forward to Elite 2 OPOPO’s season was marred by accusations ranging from match-fixing, corruption and favoritism. The team benefitted 18 penalties, the most throughout the season.
Major crowd troubles in Limbe, Bafang, Melong and Yaounde just to name a few matches wherein OPOPO seemed favored. In their match against Tonnere of Yaounde in Limbe the President Nkwain Valentine made his way into the pitch and stopped a live Elite 2 match, holding the ball under his armpit.
This incident considered by many as the most popular scandal in recent football in Cameroon was seemingly waved off owing to his relationship with FECAFOOT’s boss Eto’o.
After disciplinary seating, Nkwain was fined 500.000 frs CFA and banned for five matches while the team wasn’t sanctioned. The same man was seen in the stands in one of his club’s games days later taking a selfie with Eto’o while his ban was still on.
Victoria United President Nkwain Valentine aka Bobdidy stops live game in Elite 2 championship
It was a clean sweep for OPOPO in Elite 2 as the team finished as champions with two games to spare in the 2022/23 season. The win was still without dust. In the course of the season, a player of Victoria United Idriss, sent a voice note to another player of Unisport FC, another Elite 2 club, claiming how their team Victoria United buys matches and how the club’s president Nkwain is rich enough to give cash to referees.
The player was immediately sacked by the club after the audio went viral. FECAFOOT’s disciplinary committee did not see it necessary to open an investigation into the allegations, though Victoria United mentioned in his sack later that he was to be investigated – that aside Nfor who started the season with Unisport won the Cup of Cameroon with Fovu ten days ago.
Later in June an audio recording between Nkwain and Eto’o was leaked, and the content of the conversation can easily be tagged the most scandalous events in Cameroon football in recent times.
In the audio Eto’o reaffirms his decision to make Victoria United qualify to Elite 1. The even went further to say anyone who is against Bobdidy and his plans will be eroded.
The audio recordings which have been recently authenticated by camfoot.com, a local media outlet in Cameroon, have necessitated an investigation by the nation’s Judicial Police on corruption and match-fixing among others in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital.
In the 2023/24 season launch in Yaounde, Victoria United played and won 2-1 against Fauve Azur. Again it was not without hitches as the team’s captain Alingang Emmanuel and Mbu Paul have come under investigation by some journalists for identity fraud.
A very close associate and friend of Eto’o, Nkwain aka Bobdidy is the new name in Elite Football corridors in Cameroon. A new name but not very close to the new practices of today’s football.