The hearing of the case between Etoile Filante de Garoua and FIFA was held on Wednesday as planned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. The president of the Garoua club explains the stakes of this audience and talks about solutions to the crisis at The FECAFOOT.
How did the hearing on the Etoile Filante de Garoua case against the FIFA take place yesterday, 17 May 2017?
The audience was calm. FIFA has put much more emphasis on procedural issues. We were able to restore to Judge Pierre Muller the context in which all these disputes were born and we have above all insisted on the attitude of FIFA which continues to violate its own statutes in Cameroon and to flout its most sacred principle, the non-interference of third parties in the affairs of a national association. We have achieved the goal insofar as the sole arbitrator confirmed to us that he now has a much clearer understanding of the facts. He did not understand, for example, how another club named Etoile Filante de Garoua could be created in 2015 and receive the approval of the Minister of Sports and Physical Education.
When will be the next hearing on this case?
There probably will not be another hearing. Judge Pierre Muller informed us that he will render a sentence in the coming days on all procedural issues raised by FIFA lawyers.
The CAS has appointed a single judge, Pierre Muller, to hear the case. Don’t you dread the fact that it sounds like the last proceeding against FECAFOOT where Bernard Foucher took enough time to deliver his verdict while Tombi A Roko continued to conduct his activities?
We very much hope that things will happen differently. In this proceeding to which you are referring, we are satisfied that justice has not been done and that other interests have prevailed. It is for this reason that we appealed to the Swiss Federal Court to challenge the decision given by the CAS on 27 February 2017, despite the fact that it confirmed the invalidity of the electoral process which had led Mr Tombi A Roko at the head of FECAFOOT.
What are the chances of Etoile Filante in this procedure against FIFA?
If we judge on the basis of law, we are confident. It is obvious that the Indomitable Lions were not engaged by FECAFOOT in this competition, Mr Tombi A Roko, having no power to do so. We believe that the Indomitable Lions will have a second chance by playing their matches against Algeria and Zambia in the final round of the World Cup 2018. As you know, in the current situation, Cameroon has only a 10% chance of qualifying for this World Cup.
While this process is in progress, Etoile Filante de Garoua, through its president you are, is one of the people invited by FIFA to a meeting on June 8th. Will you be present at this meeting?
We have informed the FIFA Secretary General in writing of our reservations since May 8th and we are awaiting a reply. For us, inviting Mr Tombi A Roko and Mr Blaise Moussa to this meeting is already a violation of the FIFA Statutes and Regulations. Article 19.3 of the Statutes provides that FIFA does not recognize the non-elected executive of a federation. And as you know, Mr. Tombi was not elected because the cancellation of his election has become final since December 10, 2015 and this has been confirmed by the CAS. At this stage, therefore, I can not tell you whether I will be present at this meeting organized by FIFA.
If you go there, do you think that FIFA can finally settle this crisis at FECAFOOT after this meeting?
As the umbrella body of world football, it is its responsibility to find solutions. But we can see that so far, FIFA has helped to complicate the situation in Cameroon by looking for all the prices to impose certain people at the head of our federation. We believed that this tendency to make the leaders of the national federations of the developing countries subject at all costs was peculiar to Mr. Blatter. This is unfortunately not the case, his successor pursues the same objectives.
If you do not finally go, do not you think that as a member of this association you have made a mistake?
The error is human. Everyone can commit. But I always put forward the interests of our football and its real players. If it happens that I do not make the trip to Zurich on June 8, it would certainly be in the interest of preserving the interests of this football. It is a responsibility and I will take full responsibility. Requiring strict compliance with the decisions of the competent courts as an advance is not an exaggerated request in our view.
What needs to be done to ensure that Cameroonian football comes out definitively of this crisis that has lasted since 2013?
It is very simple. On the day when everyone becomes aware that laws and regulations are made to be respected and that in case of non-compliance everyone is exposed to sanctions, they will leave the hostel. Unfortunately, today, some people think they are above the law and allow themselves everything, starting with the minister responsible, who has the primary responsibility to ensure compliance with the law governing the functioning of sport in Cameroon.