Cameroon union concerned by players' contract problems

Geremi wants to ensure players are treated fairly in Cameroon

Addressing the fact that two-thirds of Cameroon's local footballers do not have a copy of their contract is a primary concern, says the head of the country's players' union.

Sixty-five per cent of players in Cameroon lack such a contract, the worst figure out of 54 nations surveyed by global union FIFPro.

"When you sign a contract, you need to get a copy of your contract - otherwise, you have no rights," said Geremi Njitap.

The former Cameroon international, who was elected president of the players' union in November, fears the issue could aid match-fixing and player trafficking.

"It is not fair that footballers sign contracts but don't have (a copy of) their contracts," said the former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder.

"They have no legal protection. This is one of the major problems for these players.

"This is one of my priorities - to solve this problem."

Close behind Cameroon when it comes to the number of players lacking a contract copy are Ivory Coast, home to the reigning African champions, and Gabon - with 60% of players in both countries saying they suffer in this way.

Tuesday's FIFPro survey underscored a raft of problems for the African game, including widespread contract issues, late payments, job insecurity as well as the threat to players of abuse and match-fixing.

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BBC Africa has a look at what FIFPro's annual survey tells us about football on the continent.

Over half the players based in Africa reported payment delays, a figure that rises to 96% in Gabon, the country which will host January's Africa Cup of Nations.

In Cameroon, it is 85% and Geremi is concerned by the implications.

"When you don't pay salaries, there will be attempts by those who try to corrupt players to influence the result of the game," continued the 37-year-old.

"I'm talking about match-fixing. It's important that players have their salaries. Otherwise, they will be tempted.

"Most of the players have responsibilities. Their families count on them."

In DR Congo, where nearly nine in 10 players said they did not have a written contract, 56% of players claimed they were aware of match-fixing in the league.

The country also suffered the highest number of attacks on players by other players and fans.

Ghana, meanwhile, reported the greatest incidents of physical abuse by club officials.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one local player said this was a result of attempted extortion in a country reporting the lowest rate of pay in the survey.

"Yes, I have seen such a thing - players attacked by management, attacked by a coach - because in Ghanaian football, the financial rewards are low, so everybody thinks about themselves," he said.

"If a player has a contract with the club, a lot of people in the club - like the management, and maybe some of the coaches - would like to get something from the player because they have a contract.

"And if they don't get anything, they will start attacking them."

Ghana are four-time winners of the Nations Cup and have appeared at every World Cup since 2006, but the national squad is regularly composed of players outside the domestic league.

Both the anonymous player and Geremi were also troubled by the tendency of African clubs to overlook players' welfare once they get injured.

They say that instead of offering support, clubs simply look to find replacements.

"At most clubs in Ghana, if you are injured you are forgotten," says the Ghanaian. "They will need a new player and if that player is lucky to play well, then you are out - finished."

"Unfortunately, this is the case in most of Africa," says Geremi.

"Once you are not playing any more, a club president will try to sign another player - which is not fair.

"For the owners, it is like paying someone who is not doing anything. They forget to respect the contract, which is not normal. This is the kind of issue we fight every day."

The Cameroonian believes that the raft of problems in Africa's leagues pushes many to travel to Europe, where they often fail to succeed.

"When you go to Europe, you see these players on the streets so if you organise the leagues well in Africa, you will not see a lot of younger players in Europe without teams," added two-time Nations Cup winner Geremi.

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