YAOUNDE, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Cameroon banned skipper Samuel Eto’o for 15 matches on Friday and vice-captain Eyong Enoh for two games after they persuaded team mates not to travel to Algeria for a friendly last month.
“Samuel Eto’o, in his role as captain, incited his team mates to refuse to travel to Algeria,” the Cameroon football federation (Fecafoot) said on its website (www.fecafootonline.com).
“(The disciplinary council) therefore decides that (he) is suspended for 15 matches from the men’s senior national team.”
Cameroon’s players went on strike in November, forcing the abandonment of the friendly in Algiers, saying they had not received money promised for their appearance in a four-nation tournament in Morocco the previous weekend.
The federation said 30-year-old Eto’o, four-times African Footballer of the Year, could not explain why the players refused to turn out for the national team after Algeria and the Cameroon sports ministry offered a way out of the crisis.
The Algerian football federation had promised to give the Cameroon team 30,000 euros ($39,100) on arrival in Algiers while the ministry despatched 15 million CFA francs ($29,800) for the squad the day before the match was scheduled to take place.
The federation said Eto’o was disrespectful to the sports ministry and the federation, while Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Enoh, 25, “lacked respect for the vice-president of Fecafoot”.
Eto’o, who hit the headlines when he signed for Russian Premier League club Anzhi Makhachkala from Inter Milan for a record salary in August, said the latest crisis was the last straw, the federation statement added.
It said Eto’o accused the soccer authorities of incompetence, dishonesty and injustice towards the players who they treated like “kids”.
The loss of Eto’o is a huge blow to Cameroon’s hopes of qualifying for the 2013 African Nations Cup and 2014 World Cup.
The Nations Cup qualifiers begin on Feb. 28 with a first-round match against Guinea Bissau. Cameroon’s first World Cup qualifier will be in June against Democratic Republic of Congo.
Cameroon surprisingly failed to qualify for next year’s Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and new coach Denis Lavagne has just started rebuilding his squad.
In a separate case, Cameroon’s Tottenham Hotspur left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto was fined one million CFA francs for failing to join the squad in Marrakesh for the four-nation tournament.
The players have 10 days to appeal.
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