Tug-of-war over league football in Cameroon

By Njie EnowFootball Writer, Cameroon
Fecafoot President Seidou Mbombo Njoya
Fecafoot president Seidou Mbombo Njoya wants to attract new sponsors for the league and ensure players are paid

The Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) has set up an interim committee to oversee league football in the country for the next two years.

The move follows the federation's decision to suspend the activities of Cameroon's Professional Football League (LPFC) due to alleged repeated breaches of its own statutes.

However the LPFC president, General Pierre Semengue, insists that he intends to complete his four-year term, despite an offer from the federation to become an honorary Fecafoot president.

Fecafoot wants to the new Transitional Technical Committee to attract sponsors back to the league and ensure that players receive a minimum wage.

The problems mean that the 2019 domestic league, which was due to start on 1 September, will now begin in October.

The delay comes as a blow to Cameroon who are due to host the African Nations Championship (CHAN) next year, a tournament solely for players actively in the national leagues.

"We had to step in to save local football that is in a desolate state now. Our championship is far from being glamorous and the most glaring example is the poor performance of Cameroonian clubs in continental competitions," the Fecafoot president, Seidou Mbombo Njoya told BBC Sport.

"Prior to every season there has to be a general assembly of the league (according to LPFC statutes) to assess the previous year but this hasn't been held lately.

"Then there are the constant conflicts between league officials and club presidents.

"The league can't account for state and Fecafoot money handed out to them and the two main sponsors of the domestic championships have left.

"We feel things can be done better and that's what we're trying to change."

Fighting back

The Cameroon Football Federation logo
The Cameroon Football Federation is preparing to host next year's African Nations Championship for locally-based players

Semengue, an 84-year-old military general who was re-elected in July 2016 says he will contest the imposition of the new committee by Fecafoot.

"Everything that has been done by Fecafoot is illegal" he said at a press conference.

He claims he has taken the matter before the Chamber of Conciliation and Arbitration of Cameroon's Olympic Committee and is willing to go to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

"Clubs have continued registering with us for the next season and we're going to continue working because whatever is going on now is a non-event for us," Semengue added.

Despite the stand-off the new interim committee is expected to start work soon.

"We have to hurry up because time's not on our side. We are brainstorming on the sort of competition we want because recently the tournament format has fluctuated and we want to do something professional" Njoya added.

"We are confident we can attract top sponsors to the championship to fund the teams and ensure that the players are well paid.

"We want to avoid a damning situation where about 80 percent of clubs can't pay their players"

"With the caretaker committee, we will pay minimum salaries directly to the players.

"The clubs will have to pay the players too but all this is to ensure that players are well paid and can take care of their families.

"They are the main actors in football and deserve to live decently"

In the absence of Semengue the caretaker committee will be headed up by Fecafoot's first vice-president Alim Konate.