Poor match officiating occurs everywhere, but when the practice becomes a regular feat, suspicion and frustration grows very fast amongst victims. For the past few weeks, Cameroon’s domestic football championship has been hit hard by tonnes of match-fixing scandals that have raised many eyebrows. Referees, players and club presidents have been indexed but the sad practice is seemingly on the increase.
Week in week out, complaints, voice notes and video footage have lent a growing amount of evidence that indeed some ‘Men in Black’ are on a mission to destroy Cameroonian football. A cross section of the public and media has been crying foul since the video footage of two actions that changed the physiology of the game between Dynamo FC of Douala and Foncha Street FC of Bamenda went viral on the social media. The first video shows a Foncha Street goal ruled out for an offside whereas, the last defender of Dynamo was on the goal.
— Afeseh Apong© (@afesehapong) February 27, 2023
The second video shows the referee awarding a penalty to Dynamo, whereas a Foncha Street defender had only made a clean contact with the ball inside the 18-yard box before his opponent went down.
— Afeseh Apong© (@afesehapong) February 27, 2023
Earlier in the season, Aigle Royal of Moungo had a clear goal chalked off for an imaginary offside, while Dynamo were victims of dubious penalties in a home game against Rangers in Douala, PWD of Bamenda were on the receiving end of one of such decisions just last week against UMS.
This season, the Abakwa Boys, their city rivals YOSA and AS Fortuna of Mfou have all cried foul against those assigned to call for fouls.
This is just a few of the many suspicious decisions our men in black have taken in the past few weeks that have called for their heads on the guillotine. Football is no doubt the most popular sport in Cameroon, with its rich history attracting a dedicated following across the country. But more than that, football shapes the nation’s collective identity, bringing people from the smallest village to the biggest city in Cameroon together in their love for the beautiful game. This is why soccer is considered as a second religion in Cameroon.
The recent poor officiating and suspicious refereeing decisions have come to characterise our football to the point that corruption might seem to be the norm. Who is on a mission to destroy Cameroon football? This question might sound rhetorical but there is no gainsaying the state of our football seems especially bleak as allegations of corruption happen everywhere and everytime. Over the years, some club owners and referees have ganged up to make money and power out of our local football. Stories of club presidents buying over referees to influence results of their games or those of their immediate rivals have often heat crescendo.
Most of the time, it is the referees that bear the brunt as they either get suspended by the FA or beaten severely by angry spectators and fans. What shall it profit a referee to collect a few “crumbs” from a dishonest club president and be tortured by fans?
The Cameroon football federation are custodians of the rules and regulations that bind football in Cameroon, but the federation too is increasingly coming under stiff-perenial reprimands.
It is hard to explain that a club president is suspended for five matches, but he continues to attend games within the period of his suspension. In this case, FECAFOOT is like a dog that vomits and comes back to leak its own vomit. This has also stirred nationwide allegations of complicity.
The football field is a melting pot for different interests and different people. It is a space for business, but also for entertainment and competition. Leadership of such fields like FECAFOOT and Transitional Technical body of the league require integrity, dedication and the will to work for the many and not enrich just a few. Mind you, not only the reputation of FECAFOOT is at stake here; the image of the global superstar, Samuel Eto’o Fils is also on the line.
Suspicious and poor refereeing does not reflect the close to 25 years of hard work put in by Eto’o the footballer, neither do they reflect the agenda and ambitions of his presidency and leadership at FECAFOOT.
While waiting for the panacea to nib this unfortunate practice in the board, the reality is that Cameroonian referees are desperately in need to put food on their tables and they will do all it takes, even at the expense of their lives to do so. With the little bonuses they earn which sometimes come as “groundnut money”, many are forced to do the dirty job.
Like all footballers in Cameroon at the moment, referees are hungry. And rest assured, unlike others, referees cannot bear the brunt, they do not dream of signing for Barcelona or Manchester United like the footballers. They live from hand to mouth. If nothing is done, the mafia will continue. It’s a win-or-die affair from now on!
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