Samuel Eto'o | AFP
Doha: Cameroon soccer federation president and former star player Samuel Eto’o was filmed apparently kicking a man to the ground in an altercation outside a World Cup stadium early Tuesday.
Eto’o had paused to pose for photos with fans near Stadium 974 after Brazil beat South Korea 4-1. Footage circulating on social media showed him then reacting to comments by a man holding a camera.
The former Barcelona and Inter Milan forward was initially held back by people in his entourage, but he then got clear and appeared to aim a kick at the man, who fell backwards to the ground.
The man, Algerian social media personality Said Mamouni, later published a video on YouTube saying he was the person who was attacked, and that he was at a Qatari police station to file a complaint against Eto'o.
“Samuel had a fight with me. He hit me, and the one accompanying him pushed me. I’m here to lodge a complaint and he also smashed my camera," Mamouni said.
He said that Eto'o became violent after Mamouni asked him whether he had bribed Gambian referee Bakary Gassama in a controversial World Cup qualifier between Cameroon and Algeria in March. Cameroon won the second leg 2-1 in the final moments of the match and qualified for the World Cup on the away goals rule.
Algeria's football federation filed a complaint with FIFA, soccer's governing body, demanding a replay of the match because of what it deemed were referring errors made by Gassama. FIFA dismissed the complaint.
But Algeria’s grievance also carried over to the Cameroon team’s first official news conference in Qatar, one day before playing Switzerland. An Algerian reporter’s question to Cameroon coach Rigobert Song about having “bought qualification" wasn't answered.
Eto’o has been in Qatar as president of the soccer federation of Cameroon, which was eliminated in the group stage last week.
He also represents Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee as a Global Legacy Ambassador since 2019 and is part of the FIFA Legends program that uses former players to promote soccer.
It was unclear in what capacity Eto'o attended the game Monday night.
Qatari organizers said Eto’o hadn't been their guest at the game. FIFA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Cameroon federation didn't immediately answer phone calls or respond to messages seeking comment.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which oversees the World Cup, and its government did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.
Eto’o played at four World Cups for Cameroon between 1998 and 2014, and was elected to lead its soccer federation one year ago. AP