Monday, February 6, 2023

Eto’o apologizes for World Cup brawl

DOHA ( Associated Press) — The current president of Cameroon’s soccer federation, former soccer player Samuel Eto’o, apologized for kicking a man to the ground Tuesday morning in front of a World Cup stadium in what he described as a “violent brawl.”

Eto’o stopped to take pictures with fans near the 974 Stadium after Brazil beat South Korea 4-1. In a video going viral on social media, he is seen reacting to the comments of a man with a camera in his hand.

At first, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker was restrained by some of his teammates, but when he broke free he kicked the man, who fell backwards to the floor.

“I had a violent altercation with a man who may have been a supporter of Algeria,” Eto’o wrote in a statement posted in French and English on his Twitter account.

Thus the ex-footballer referred to a months-long campaign by Algerian fans against Cameroon. The two nations met in March during a World Cup playoff.

“I want to apologize for losing my temper and reacting in a way that is not my personality,” said Eto’o, who has represented the Qatar World Cup organizing committee as a Global Legacy Ambassador since 2019.

Algerian social media personality Said Mamouni later posted a video on YouTube. He identified himself as the man who attacked and said he was at a police station in Qatar to file a complaint against Eto’o.

“Samuel fought with me. He hit me, and a man with him pushed me. I have come here to file a complaint. My camera was also damaged by this,” said Mamouni.

He said Eto’o became violent when Mammouni asked him whether he had bribed Gambian referee Bakri Gassama in a controversial World Cup qualifying match between Cameroon and Algeria.

Cameroon won the return match 2–1 in the last minute and qualified for the World Cup on away goals criteria.

The Algerian Football Federation has lodged a complaint with FIFA. He demanded that the match be replayed, noting that Gassama had made several mistakes.

World football’s governing body rejected the demand.

But the Algerian protest led to the Cameroonian team’s first official press conference in Qatar the day before they faced Switzerland. An Algerian reporter asked Cameroon coach Rigobert Song whether he had “bought merit.”

Geet didn’t answer.

Eto’o traveled to Qatar as president of the Cameroonian federation, which was eliminated in the group stage last week.

“I have been the victim of defamation and accusations of fraud without evidence,” he wrote Tuesday. “I promise to continue to oppose the constant provocations and daily harassment by some Algerian supporters.”

Eto’o is also part of the FIFA Legends programme, which recruits former football players to promote football.

It was not clear in what capacity he attended Monday night’s game.

Qatari organizers said that Eto’o was not one of their guests for the clash. FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Cameroonian federation did not respond to phone calls and messages seeking comment.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Organization and Legacy, which oversees the World Cup, and the government did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.

Eto’o played in four World Cups with Cameroon between 1998 and 2014, and was elected to lead his football federation the year before.

He urged the Algerian leadership to “end this unhealthy atmosphere, before a more serious tragedy occurs”.

“To the Fenix ​​fans,” he said, using the nickname those fans received, “I wish you to find peace and overcome the disappointment of a painful defeat that we have now left behind.”

Nation World News Desk
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