World Cup 2014: Cameroon players miss the plane in payments dispute

French newspaper L'Equipe reports that the players did not fly out from Yaounde on Sunday morning because they were offered less than they expected in bonuses

Cameroon’s World Cup squad refused to board the plane due to take them to Brazil yesterday because of a long-running dispute over bonus payments for the tournament.

Team spokesman Raphael Nkoa said there were a “certain number of issues” that had to be resolved between the players and management and they had missed the flight to Brazil yesterday morning. The squad were due to fly to Brazil later in the day, Nkoa insisted. He declined to give details of the dispute.

Cameroon players – including Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o and Barcelona’s Alex Song – have been in dispute with federation officials for more than a month. The team threatened to boycott a training session at a pre-tournament preparation camp in Austria, claiming the bonuses they were promised for the showpiece were insufficient. The problem appeared to be partly resolved by the time the squad returned to Cameroon for a final World Cup warm-up game against Moldova on Saturday, but resurfaced on the morning the party was due to head to South America.

Reports in the West African nation said some players even refused to take part in a farewell ceremony with officials after beating Moldova 1-0 in Yaounde with a first-half goal by the midfielder Edgar Salli.

 

The Cameroon squad are now expected to arrive in Brazil today – just four days before the four-time African champions open their World Cup campaign against Mexico in Group A. World governing body Fifa normally requires teams to arrive at their World Cup base at least five days before their first game in the tournament. Cameroon also face Croatia and Brazil in the group stage.

The country’s players have previously had stand-offs with the national federation over bonus payments, once before the 2002 World Cup and most recently in 2011, when the team refused to travel from Morocco to play a game against Algeria.

Following the dispute in Morocco, captain and striker Eto’o was banned for 15 matches by the federation for his part in the player strike. The punishment was later cut to four games.

Cameroon’s opponents Mexico and Croatia had mixed experiences in their warm-up games over the weekend.

Nikica Jelavic scored in the 58th minute to give Croatia a 1-0 win over Australia. The Hull City striker was given plenty of room after receiving a pass inside the box and rocketed the ball from close range past Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Meanwhile, a stunning last-gasp header by Portugal’s Bruno Alves earned his side a fortunate 1-0 win over Mexico in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The game looked set for a goalless draw when Bruno Alves soared to send an unstoppable header past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in the 93rd minute from a cross by Joao Moutinho.

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