Samuel Eto’o claims he is victim of Caf campaign before match-fixing hearing

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Samuel Eto’o has accused the Confederation of African Football’s general secretary of several breaches of Fifa’s code of ethics during the investigation into allegations that he was involved in match-fixing.

The Guardian understands that Eto’o’s lawyers have lodged a complaint with world football’s governing body alleging that Véron Mosengo-Omba opened the investigation to create “negative publicity” about the former Barcelona striker, who has been president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) since December 2021.

In August Caf opened an investigation after it said it had “received written statements from several Cameroonian football stakeholders to look into and investigate certain alleged improper conduct by Mr Samuel Eto’o”. Those are believed to have included allegations that he was involved in match-fixing after a recording of Eto’o speaking to someone alleged to be the president of a Cameroonian club, was made public.

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Eto’o’s lawyers have insisted the recording provides no evidence of match-fixing and questioned its legality. They said their complaint to Fifa claimed that Mosengo-Omba was instrumental in initiating a media campaign against Eto’o and accused Mosengo-Omba of breaking various parts of Fifa’s ethics code including defamation, an “attack on physical and moral integrity” and abuse of power, as well as a violation rules of general conduct and the duty of confidentiality.

“We have been able to identify some of the individuals who contributed to this situation, in particular the secretary-general,” Eto’o’s lawyer, Antoine Vey, told the Guardian. “It’s him we are mentioning in our complaint. We have questions about who recorded that tape and for what purpose.

“Mr Eto’o doesn’t recognise taking part in a conversation in which he obviously talks about corruption. If you listen to the tape, he is trying to reassure a club president about some issues he is having; he says it will be dealt with but he doesn’t say it was by illegal means or anything like that. We don’t really see what the point of the tape is. It doesn’t have much to do with procedure and is just a part of a campaign to undermine Eto’o’s reputation.”

Eto’o’s lawyers say their attempts to contact Caf to arrange a hearing date were ignored. They claim it was not until they lodged their complaint with Fifa that they were given a date, with Eto’o’s hearing scheduled to take place on Wednesday. That falls outside regulations in Caf’s disciplinary code that say any investigation should “not exceed six months”.

“We believe that this investigation is based on nothing and it was only opened to create some negative publicity about Mr Eto’o,” Vey said. “We don’t accept the way they have been acting. If you take the chronology we don’t understand why it [the hearing] is happening now and it didn’t happen in August. We can also see that people are using this kind of procedural nonsense to create fake news about him.”

Caf and Fifa did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

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Eto’o’s future as Fecafoot’s president will be in doubt regardless of the outcome of his hearing after his attempt to resign was rejected by its executive committee in February after the Africa Cup of Nations defeat by Nigeria. He remains at loggerheads with Cameroon’s sports ministry, which appointed Marc Brys as the head coach of the Indomitable Lions to replace Rigobert Song this month in a decision Fecafoot said was “taken unilaterally”.

“The Cameroonian Football Federation learned, at the same time as all Cameroonians, of the appointment to positions of responsibility within the national senior men’s football selection,” it said in a statement.

Eto’o was reported to have rejected an invitation to the Belgian coach’s contract signing last week after being given two hours’ notice.

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