After years of turmoil, Cameroon federation elects new head
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — The Cameroon Football Federation elected former secretary general Sidiki Tombi a Roko as its new president on Monday following more than two years of turmoil and threats of a ban by FIFA.
Tombi a Roko won by 59 votes to two against his only challenger, Robert Atah Behazah. He succeeded his former boss Mohammed Iya, who is in prison after being convicted of misappropriation of money in his former role as a director at Cameroon’s national cotton producer.
Tombi a Roko said he now intended “to pull Cameroonian football out of the abyss.”
Iya won re-election from jail while awaiting trial in 2013 but that vote was not recognized by FIFA. The federation in Cameroon, the home country of African football head and FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou, had been operating under a temporary committee since then.
Former Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell and three other candidates were not allowed to stand in Monday’s election after not meeting eligibility criteria. Former national team coach Jules Nyongha withdrew his candidacy last week.
The sport has been badly affected by the federation’s long-running problems.
Cameroon was the first African team to qualify for the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1990, but has lost every one of its games at the last two tournaments. A four-time continental champion, Cameroon also failed to even qualify for the 2012 and 2013 African Cups and was eliminated in the group stage in this year’s edition.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was especially embarrassing for Cameroon, with the squad threatening to strike over unpaid bonuses and then being embroiled in match-fixing allegations.
The temporary committee appointed by FIFA in July 2013 was only meant to run the federation for eight months but was in charge for more than two years after failing numerous times to hold elections. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled another election last November was invalid.
World body FIFA had threatened to ban Cameroon from international soccer if Monday’s vote wasn’t successful.