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Samuel Eto's daunting task of saving Cameroon's local football league

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

Eto’o promised to fight corruption, promote women’s soccer, improve stadiums and other infrastructure, get fans back at games and — maybe his key promise — improve the lives of players.

Malone said many players in Cameroon “play for free or almost free” as some teams aren’t always able to pay their salaries.

He has also negotiated a deal to see the return of league sponsor MTN, a multinational telecommunications company, and has promised to build 10 stadia in answer to players’ pleas for better settings to ply their trade.

He also stated he had a mission “to rekindle the winning spirit within our national teams” and there were early signs of that when Cameroon impressed and excited on the way to third place at the African Cup of Nations it hosted in January and February.

There’s a long road ahead, but Eto’o “has ignited hope in us,” said Frank Abianda, a striker with top-tier club AS Fortuna.

“It’s imperative to look beyond selfish interests in order to revive our local championships,” Eto’o said. But the 41-year-old Eto’o has made a start, establishing a minimum wage for players in the top two tiers and enforcing rules requiring club owners to show proof they have enough money to pay their players and staff.

When Samuel Eto’o won the election to become president of the Cameroon soccer federation, he jumped from his chair and punched the air like he might have done after scoring a goal at the height of a playing career that put him among the best strikers in the world. The league has been regularly disrupted, sponsors have deserted it — taking their money with them — and players have lost faith.

It was a surprise when the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker announced he was standing as a candidate to lead the troubled Cameroon federation.

Cameroon’s national team is one of Africa’s most successful with five continental titles; Eto’o was on the team for two of them.

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