2019 AFCON: Cameroon players finally agree to fly to Egypt
After long hours of negotiations that eventually included emissaries from the Presidency, the Cameroon players and the sports ministry reached a deal over a bonus row that could have jeopardised the defending champions’ participation at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.
Details of the deal were not revealed to the press but state television CRTV showed footage of the players, all smiles and rolling their luggage out of their Mont Febe hotel in Yaoundé and later boarding the team’s official bus for the airport, with fans applauding on the side of the road.
A Goal source at the FA (Fecafoot) confirmed that the team will leave for Egypt at 14H00 (13H00 GMT) on Friday. If they didn't arrive in Cairo on time, the defending champions could've been disqualified from participating at the Afcon.
Cameroon are the only team yet to arrive in Egypt and the tournament starts later at night, with the hosts taking on Zimbabwe.
The players had refused to travel in protest of the bonuses offered to them by the government. They were demanding 40 million francs (€61,000) each, whereas the authorities said they could only afford half of that amount, 20 million francs (€30,500), which had already been wired to their respective bank accounts.
Mediations from Fecafoot, the Sports Minister and other state dignitaries including legend Samuel Eto’o had failed earlier in the day.
In an open letter to the general public, the players explained the following during their standoff with the government:
1) Most of us paid fully or partially our air tickets from our clubs to the team’s camp for the Afcon preparations.
2) During camping in Madrid and Doha, no player, among the final 23 or the excluded 14, was paid participation premium.
3) Our camping in Doha, our trip to Yaounde and the eventual trip to Cairo were all sponsored by Qatar.
4) A presidential decree dating back to 2014 states that all bonuses, participation fees for friendly matches and camping must be paid to the players before the start of a major tournament like the Afcon.
5) We have even accepted a 25% slash in our regular bonuses ahead of the upcoming Afcon but unfortunately, they are not honouring this.
6) We deplore the poor communication between the players and football officials of this country.
7) This disorganisation led to the refusal of players like Joel Matip, Stephane Mbia and Nicolas Nkoulou to come to camp.
8) We wish that the future generation of players would not suffer a similar disregard as us and those who preceded us.
The Indomitable Lions will open their campaign against Guinea Bissau on June 25 and need to be at the competition five days before their first game, according to Caf rules.