A new goal for Samuel Eto’o in saving Cameroon soccer

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When Samuel Eto’o won the election to become president of the Cameroon soccer federation, he jumped from his chair and punched the air like he might have done after scoring a goal at the height of a playing career that put him among the best strikers in the world. But that celebration in December marked just the start for Eto’o, who has set himself the daunting task of rebuilding a broken domestic soccer structure in his Central African home country. Cameroon’s national team is one of Africa’s most successful with five continental titles; Eto’o was on the team for two of them. Cameroon seized the world’s attention with a memorable run to the quarterfinals of the 1990 World Cup, led by charismatic striker Roger Milla. Many took notice of African soccer after that and Cameroon has gone on to play at seven World Cups, more than any other African nation. Yet at home, the last decade has been deeply difficult. The national league has been bedeviled by interference from the government, allegations of corruption and unkept promises from soccer leaders. The league has been regularly disrupted, sponsors have deserted it — taking their money with them — and players have lost faith. “I can’t list the number of players who have left football to do other jobs because they benefit nothing (from playing),” said Che Malone, a defender with Coton Sport, Cameroon’s national champion.

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