• Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

Samuel Eto’o Fils: “This decade has been a decade full of promising lessons for the future”

Jul 22, 2022

We have potential. We have the resources. We have the men. And this formidable youth will know how to find the way. I will always be by his side. Read Samuel Eto’o Fils’s full interview with Forbes Africa magazine

Elected to the presidency of the Cameroon Football Federation last December, the former international football star was the first personality to have made the front page of forbes magazine, in 2012. It was just ten years ago. In this interview, the boss of Fecafoot looks back on this past decade while specifying his projects and ambitions.

Interview by Antoine Leroy

Forbes Afrique: In 2012, you were on the cover of the very first issue of Forbes Afrique. Since then, ten years have passed. How do you view this past decade, both personally and on a continental level?

Samuel Eto’o Fils: A decade already! Time passes so fast. A decade of ambitions, dreams, achievements but also disappointments and missed appointments. Overall, this decade has been a decade full of promising lessons for the future. Personally, as our illustrious predecessor Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose, I always win”. The Cover of ten years ago that you mention, was on the operator Set Mobile (a telecom company launched in July 2012 by Samuel Eto’o Fils and which went out of business two years later, editor’s note). I learned a lot from this missed appointment. Our continent has both made economic progress and scored goals against its own camp. Indeed, conflicts and wars consecrate a regression that I regret. However, there is a great reason for hope: it is this pragmatic youth, strong in its dreams and ambitions. I have faith in this youth.

Elected president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) last December, at the end of a campaign rich in twists and turns, you announced your intention to reform the current economic model of clubs. In the present circumstances, what is your conclusion on this specific point?

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Samuel Eto’o Fils: As you can imagine, when developing my program, I thought a lot and questioned the profitability of our football in Africa in general, and of our clubs in particular. We produce the best players internationally… But our championships are almost all moribund and unattractive. Our clubs, failing to earn money, do not even manage to achieve the necessary financial balance. As a result, economic models need to be rethought and overhauled. The continent, and my country in particular, have nevertheless made substantial investments in stadiums. In my country, the government of President Biya has provided admirable support for the development of football, which is a vector of stability and a social link.

However, this support is insufficient. I am working on an economic model that would relaunch the attractiveness of the championships, therefore valuing the clubs and thus better monetizing the players. How ? Through marketing, digitalization, raising the salary of players and therefore the level of the game, the monetization of television rights… Several avenues are being studied. And despite the difficulties, we are, six months after our arrival at the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) – on the right path, with tangible results.

The development of young talents is regularly cited among the main challenges facing African football. What possible avenues do you think could be explored?

Samuel Eto’o Fils: The president of CAF, Doctor Motsepe has made football for young people his hobbyhorse. I am forty years old and the development of this youth football is my priority. I myself benefited from the existence of these schools to become Samuel Eto’o. I have personally invested in youth football and continue to do so. We must go further than what is being done today. Reform holiday and neighborhood leagues, work with potential and current players and investors to restructure football schools. These schools are doing a good job, but there is room for improvement. In fact, in our program for Fecafoot, it is all these avenues for the future that we have discussed in detail.

The future precisely. What marketing strategies should be put in place to boost the sector’s revenues?

Samuel Eto’o Fils: As indicated previously, we have theorized football business with tools such as marketing, digital, lobbying but also and above all the creation of a network of allies within employers and business circles. . Our strategy is to conceptualize football in the marketing plan as a support, a tool for generating income and developing brands in Africa. Here is a summary of our roadmap on the subject.

A final word on your personal ambitions…

Samuel Eto’o Fils: My personal ambitions? I am operational with a clear vision to restore Cameroonian football to its full potential. Football, football and more football at the service of the development of the continent and the development of our young people. I exist, me Samuel Eto’o, thanks to the unconditional love of this African youth. Their unwavering support even in troubled times obliges me. I feel solidarity with this African youth. I am in solidarity with their sufferings and their hopes. We have potential. We have the resources. We have the men. And this formidable youth will know how to find the way. I will always be by his side.