Cameroon authorities address tensions over Eto'o ban

Samuel Eto'o
Eto'o has decided not to appeal against the ban

Cameroon's government is seeking to defuse a growing controversy after national team captain Samuel Eto'o was banned for 15 matches for his role in a players' strike.

The ban has sparked anger among fans, with protests planned for the coming days.

The sanction was handed down on Friday by the Cameroonian Football Federation (Fecafoot).

It followed Eto'o's participation in a boycott of a friendly against Algeria.

The Cameroon captain, 30, was given 10 days to appeal against the ban, but has decided not to contest the decision.

If it is not lifted then he will miss Cameroon's qualifying campaign for both the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup.

Cameroon's sports minister Adoum Garoua said in a statement that the government is "looking at the possibilities of bringing together the various parties involved" in an attempt to "resolve the problem and restore harmony".

Three fans' associations in Yaounde have threatened to stage a protest march on Saturday, if the sports minister does not find a speedy solution.

Meanwhile, in the southwest region of Cameroon some fans have already started demonstrating, with a group of enraged supporters marching a distance of 20km from Tiko to Mutengene demanding that the ban be lifted.

The strike last month followed a row over bonuses after a tournament in Morocco in November and led to the cancellation of the Algeria tie.

Vice-captain Enoh Eyong received a two-match ban for his role in the boycott, while Tottenham's Benoit Assou-Ekotto was fined $1,980 (£1,276).

The federation said Eto'o was banned for "violating the internal regulations of the national team relating to loyalty and obligation of participating in a match".

Cameroon have failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals, so the first games Eto'o will miss are the Indomitable Lions' opening games in qualifying for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup.

The Cameroonians begin their bid to reach the 2013 Nations Cup finals against Guinea Bissau on 29 February.

They start their quest to reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a match on 1 June against DR Congo.

Eto'o is the most decorated player in African history having won the European Champions League three times during his time at Barcelona and Inter Milan.

He has been named African Footballer of the Year four times and won an Olympic gold medal with Cameroon in 2000 and the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002.