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CAF 2019 AFCON Withdrawal: Cameroon’s Punishment For 46 Years Of Infrastructural Laxity, Negligence

Buea(National Times)-Cameroon as a nation accessed the corners of the entire globe largely thanks to its footballing prowess. It is a nation endowed with a galaxy of football stars.

Cameroon holds a unique record as Africa’s most successful club at the World Cup.

She has made seven participations in the world soccer jamboree. On the African Continent, Cameroon has clinched the continental trophy five times.

Her feat is only second to Egypt with 7 continental trophies. Beyond this, the country holds a record at the Olympic Games and the Confederation Cup.

The country last hosted the African soccer showpiece in 1972. Thus in 2014, news from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awarding Cameroon the right to host the tournament in 2019 was an epoch achievement.

November 30, 2018, what pundits predicted which most regime barons saw as being unpatriotic happened. The nation was tripped of an opportunity to host Africa on a different scale after 46 years of waiting.

While some blame the regime for being unable to fix things since four years to meet up with CAF’s standards, there is more to the present national  ‘shame’ of being unable to host a tournament which even smaller nations have done so successfully.

Cameroon’s tale of world and African football glory seems to have ended only on the pitch of their host countries, the bank accounts of officials, night clubs and frivolous activities.

The country’s decades of exploits that would have resulted in ground breaking investment on football infrastructure was never forthcoming.

Irrespective of changes at the level of the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) and other presidential directives, Cameroon’s sporting infrastructure dates back to the analogue age. Observers qualify such  as the product of lack of vision and planning.

Money earned from participation at international tournaments has rather always generated controversy. Billions form participation at World Cups and Nations Cups are not known to have been used to develop football infrastructure.

It is a country with a tale of muddy pitches, haphazard professional leagues, poor football management and lack of accountability.

Yet, when they go participating in a tournament, they enjoy the luxury of one of the best hotels at the expense of tax payers. Huge delegations accompany players and return without ever thinking of drawing up a plan to develop the country’s sporting infrastructure.

Apart from the Ahmadou Ahidjo and Reunification Stadiums in Yaoundé and Douala respectively, Cameroon had no sporting infrastructure that could survive international scrutiny 40 years ago. These same complexes have even loss touch with modern stadia.

It was thanks to its hosting of the 2016 Female African Cup of Nations(AWCON) that some changes were made on infrastructure.

For all these decades, most of those placed to serve the nation returned home quarrelling over bonuses and allowances.

Narratives on the officials flooding delegations with concubines for self-pleasure are not new to disagreements that have blighted Cameroon’s glorious history as a football power house.

Thus Cameroonians were envious and marvel at the level of investment in other countries. The hunger to see the nation host the tournament is what pushed Government to bid for the 2019 edition. However, decades of ‘wasted’ opportunities could only be revealed in a time such as this.

Though the disgrace and pain remain enormous, many believe that if Government and those who flood the corridor of football politics in Cameroon had elaborated a development plan decades ago when all was well, the State would not have been in a rush to complete work on hotels, stadia, roads among others.

 

Even in the 29 year stewardship of her son, Issa Hayatou, at the helm of CAF, Cameroon could still not measure up with current trends in football infrastructural development. Given that football is interwoven with political decisions, Cameroon’s weaknesses against CAF standards could only have been exploited against her.

The timing of the announcement is what many have described as the report card for years of wasted opportunities to prepare for the future. Even just in 2017 when the nation clinched the trophy, some FCFA 500million was allegedly spent on tours around the country to celebrate whereas time was against the country to meet up with the demands of CAF.

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