By Basil K Mbuye
The agent of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, says the controversial decision of former President of the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, Tombi A Roko Sidiki, to sanction all those who refused to compete in the 2017 African Nations Cup, AFCON, was responsible for Joel Matip’s decision to quit the Lions’ den.
Hear him: “It hurt all of these players. Everyone was scared and shocked. They said to themselves: “but if we don’t go to the AFCON, why do you want to spoil our career? So what’s the point of coming back to play in this country? “I was my son’s lawyer. It was I who wrote with Schalke 04 to make sure that they did not block them because Cameroon had complained. In this complaint, they were asking for these players to be sanctioned by not playing for their clubs until the AFCON is over. It hurts a lot and I don’t think there is anyone who can’t understand that,” he said.
Just Choupo-Moting was speaking in an interview with the press. According to him, despite efforts from Joel Matip’s father to convince the player to change his decision, all his father’s efforts fell on deaf ears. “I’m his father’s friend. He tried to talk to him, but he said that he has made up his mind.”
However, Just Choupo-Moting said he is still optimistic that things could change for Matip to return to the Lions’ den.
Joel Matip-Cameroon Saga
Matip earned his first call-up for the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on May 11, 2010 and represented Cameroon at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
He was also part of the squad in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. However, on January 3, 2017, he announced that he would not play in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
He cited some “awful experience with the previous technical staff” as the reason for his retirement.
Hear him: “I tried it again and again and, at one moment, you have to say it is enough. You cannot keep saying, ‘Maybe next time it will get better, it will get better.’ It is Africa and you can never compare it to European things. I never compared it. I am not talking about the hotel or having the perfect pitch. It is not that I want something special. But it would have been good if all the people only thought the most important thing was to win something and to achieve.”
FECAFOOT did not welcome the news. This sparked an eligibility dispute due to him not officially writing a letter of his retirement to FECAFOOT in 2015. With Cameroon submitting a complaint against Matip at FIFA, Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp omitted the defender from many club games over fears of a sanction from FIFA.
In 2011, Schalke refused to release Matip for an AFCON warm-up game after the late submission of a request by FECAFOOT. Had Schalke advised Matip to make his retirement official with a written letter in 2015, all this could have been avoided.
Matip case is just one out of many cases, where players have decided to quit the Indomitable Lions due to poor management of things. Players like Lauren Etame Mayer also dumped the national team after the debacle of the Indomitable Lions in the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup.
There is also the case of Nicolas Alexis Julio Nkoulou Ndoubena.