Salvador: Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’ defended himself on Friday over his role in the squad’s pre-World Cup strike action in the wake of blistering criticism back home, including media allegations of “treason”.
In an open letter to the Cameroon people, Eto’ said last weekend’s strike was a search for “improvements that will benefit future generations”. The protests included refusing to accept their country’s flag from the prime minister and delaying their departure for Brazil by almost a day in a haggle over World Cup money.
“I fought for what I believed was right: the right of my teammates for their bonuses, so that they can give the best of themselves for their country,” said Eto’.
He was at the forefront of a torrid pre-World Cup weekend which saw the players snub prime minister Philemon Yang and then refuse to get on their expensively-chartered airline for Brazil.
“There have been misunderstandings, certainly. However, we are satisfied with a happy end. We hope that all those who were offended by our insistence are able to forgive us,” Eto’, 33, added in the letter distributed to reporters on Friday.
This week, the Cameroon media turned on their favourite footballer son with one newspaper editorial accusing him of “high treason”.
They were particularly piqued by the refusal of the players to take a giant flag from Yang at the end of Saturday’s warm-up win over Moldova in Yaounde.
While the players refused to come out of the changing room, Cameroon’s German coach Volker Finke went to accept it instead.
Cameroon’s players were supposed to fly to Brazil on Sunday but refused to leave until they were given an extra five million CFA Francs ($10,300) each on top of the 50 million already paid.