By Peter Olorunnisomo – The state of conflict among factions of the Cameroon Football Association also known as FECAFOOT has taken its toll. Despite attempts through the official football channels at international levels, the factions could not be brought to reconcile their differences.
This led the world football governing body, FIFA, to create a normalisation committee to temporarily manage the affairs of the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) according to the status of the institution. The decision came as a bomb shell especially as the country is preparing to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and also the World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria in a fortnight.
Despite the decision by FIFA, serenity reigns within the ranks of the Cameroon Football Federation and the sports family in Cameroon in general. At the headquarters of FECAFOOT in the Tsinga neighbourhood last Friday, one could see a green Toyota Hilux pickup double cabin belonging to the National Gendarmerie packed outside the gate. Entry into the offices was strictly controlled at the gate as usual to know who is going into the building for what purpose.
While Cameroonian journalists had access into the offices of FECAFOOT access was restricted from members of the public. A source at FECAFOOT said the presence of gendarmes was a measure taken by the State to avoid acts of vandalism. “Each time there is an appointment in the country there are some security measures that are taken for social reasons. Immediately after the decision, there were three vehicles carrying police and gendarme officers. But lately, there has been only one vehicle with two gendarmes. It means there is no problem,” the source said.
No major information could be got from the officials of FECAFOOT at the moment. They however promised to grant a press conference on the issue later. Jacques Bell, a FECAFOOT official said the image of the country has been greatly affected in that Cameroon already has major commitments in the international scene notably the World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria. He said putting place a normalisation committee could be demoralising. He called on Cameroonians to show a sense of patriotism, boost their moral and win.
The Bureau of the FIFA Council had decided to appoint a Normalisation Committee for the FECAFOOT in accordance with article 14 par. 1a and article 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes.
The resort to a Normalisation Committee is the fall out of the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to annul the electoral process leading to the election of the current FECAFOOT executive committee in 2015.
Attempts by FIFA to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon failed leading to the current impasse.
The mandate of the Normalisation Committee will include the following tasks:
· To run the daily affairs of FECAFOOT;
· To draft new statutes in consultation with all stakeholders and in compliance with FIFA’s Statutes and standards as well as mandatory national law;
· To review the statutes of the regional and departmental leagues and ensure their alignment with the FECAFOOT statutes;
· To identify the delegates of the FECAFOOT general assembly and of the regional and departmental leagues;
· To organise and conduct elections of a new FECAFOOT executive committee.
FIFA insisted that the normalisation committee will be composed of an adequate number of members to be identified by a joint FIFA and CAF mission scheduled to take place very shortly.
“The committee will act as an electoral committee and none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions in the elections.
“The specified period of time during which the Normalisation Committee shall perform its functions shall expire no later than February 28, 2018,” the statement concluded.
Shortly before the Confederations Cup that took place in Russia last June, a Cameroonian club, Etoile Filante de Garoua, reportedly complained to FIFA that FECAFOOT led by Tombi Roko Sidiki, lacked authority to send a team to the tournament.
FIFA however ignored the protest and allowed the Indomitable Lions participate but failed to go beyond the group games.
Cameroon was banned from global football in July 2013 before the establishment of a FIFA-approved Normalisation Committee.
Sidiki and his executive committee then assumed office after elections held in September 2015. But the CAS subsequently backed a ruling made in Cameroon nullifying the polls that brought Sidiki to office.
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon who are trailing Super Eagles with four points in the Group B of the Russia 2018 qualifiers are due to arrive Uyo early next week for the September 1 game at the Nest of Champions. The return leg is scheduled to hold in Yaounde on September 4. A win in Uyo for Eagles will move Nigeria up nine points and only need another victory to seal the passage to the Mundial.
Although Cameroon enjoys a superior head-to-head record against Nigeria, Eagles defeated the Indomitable Lions 3-0 in their last meeting in a friendly in Belgium in October 2015.
Odion Ighalo who has just been recalled to the senior Nigerian team said from his China base that Eagles would be hungrier for the three points at stake in Uyo than the African champions.
“We want the game more and God will crown our efforts on the day,” observed the former Watford forward last night.
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