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Football: Cameroon breaks taboo by agreeing to meet Russians in Moscow

A month after qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations (held from January 13 to February 11, 2024 in Côte d’Ivoire), Cameroon will play a friendly match that will not go unnoticed: On October 12, the Indomitable Lions will face Russia at the VTB Arena in Moscow. The opportunity for the Moscow public to see their selection for the first time since the duel against Malta on September 7, 2021 at the Spartak Stadium, as part of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

Because in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, at the end of February 2022, the country’s national team and clubs were banned from world football: the international federation (FIFA) and its European counterpart, UEFA, excluded them from all competitions. . It is a fact that Russia was able to hold friendly matches in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and even Qatar. But also on his own soil, as was the case against Iraq in St. Petersburg on March 26.

Arrival of indomitable lions in Moscow “They wanted the Russians for several months”explains a source close to the Cameroonian federation (Fecafoot), who wishes to remain anonymous. “The discussion primarily concerned the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, such a match cannot be the result of an agreement between the federations”he continues.

According to match organizer FIFA, the first contacts date back to early 2023, when Russia was looking for opponents for friendly matches. However, he recalls “No European choice wants to run the risk of confronting them, because that will lead to public opinion.” African federations also refused.. Paul Biya, Cameroon’s head of state, was quick to point out the prospect. The match was originally supposed to take place in June, but Samuel Eto’o, president of Fecafoot, has already committed to the June 10 match against Mexico in San Diego (California).

“This match is a strong political signal”

Cameroon will be the first A team other than Asia to face Sbornaya since the start of the war. In September, the Russian team traveled to Egypt for two matches, but it was against the local Olympic team, U-23. “Russia wants to show that despite various sanctions, it can exist, especially through sports, and this match with Cameroon in Moscow is a strong signal politically. insists Lucas Aubin, director of research at the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs. The regime has its allies, and we know it has a certain number in Africa, a continent where its influence has grown since 2019. Cameroon, even if it wants to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, for example, is favorable. The presence of Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024″.

According to the information World Africa, Russia will cover travel and accommodation for the untamed lions in the capital. The reception dedicated to Samuel Eto’o will also be closely watched. In early August, the president of the federation took part in a charity match in London, organized by the former star of the Ukrainian national team, Andriy Shevchenko, to finance the reconstruction of a school destroyed by the Russian army. The former striker’s presence at the event was downplayed by both Vladimir Putin – who the player met in Moscow as part of the 2018 World Cup draw – and Cameroon’s head of state Paul Biya.

For Lucas Aubin, we should expect more matches between Russia and Africa in the medium term. In fact, after the Indomitable Lions, Kenya’s Harambe stars are set to face Sbornaya in their turn on October 16 in Antalya, Turkey.

Source: Le Monde



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