Football: Cameroon team depart late for Africa Cup of Nations following pay dispute

The Cameroon national football team in September 2017.
The Cameroon national football team in September 2017.PHOTO: AFP

YAOUNDE (REUTERS) - Cameroon’s football team are heading to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations after initially refusing to board a flight because of a players’ pay dispute, the team said in a statement on Friday (June 21).

The champions face Guinea-Bissau in their opening match of the tournament on Tuesday, but the players did not appear for their flight on Thursday evening amid a spat over bonus payments.

“We are not satisfied (with the government’s proposition), but we have decided to end all negotiation concerning our premiums,” said the statement. “We will be travelling to Egypt this Friday.”

Pay disputes before major competitions are not unusual for African football federations which often do not have sufficient resources to pay their players high sums. Nigeria and Ghana have experienced similar problems in recent World Cups.

Ministry of sports spokesman Gabriel Nloga said the players had each been paid a bonus of 20 million CFA francs (S$46,750). A source at Cameroon's football federation said the players had asked for twice that.

Following negotiations, the ministry of sport agreed on Friday to pay each player a one-off 5 million CFA franc bonus once they have won their first match in Egypt. 

Cameroon has a rich football history, with both male and female teams taking part in a number of past World Cups.

The women's team were one of three African sides to qualify for the World Cup taking place in France. They reached the round of 16, in which they face England on Sunday, after a 2-1 win over New Zealand.

But the Central African country was last year stripped of its right to host the 2019 Nations Cup due to delays in preparations for the tournament and security concerns.

The Cup kicks off later on Friday with an opening match between Egypt and Zimbabwe in Cairo.