Cameroon wing-back Pierre Wome has dismissed suggestions that the players’ dispute over bonus payments undermined the Indomitable Lions’ World Cup bid.
The Cameroon squad were held up two days in Paris while negotiations continued over bonuses, a delay that many have blamed for their sluggish performances in South Korea.
« If we had hired a plane from Paris we would have arrived on time, » he said. « I don’t know why the managers insisted on having a plane from Cameroon or why we waited. »
Wome, though, places the blame for that delay firmly at the door of the Cameroonian Football Federation. « The strike action did not cause our elimination, » Wome said. « If things had been done well ahead of time, there would have been no strike.
« But now that we have failed, people only talk about the strike. Everybody is blaming the players, when we were only asking for what was due to us. »
Cameroon’s journey from Copenhagen, where they played their last friendly before heading out to the Far East, to Japan where they set up their pre-tournament base, turned into farce.
After the delay in Paris, Cameroon lost a further 48 hours with an emergency stopover in Bangkok after failing to gain permission to fly over Cambodian or Vietnamese airspace.
Cameroon FA president Iya Mohamed last week accused players of undermining the World Cup bid with their mercenary attitudes. « We had knives to our throats. It was sorrowful and the result is there for all to see, » he said.
« It was totally incomprehensible, » he fumed. « I refuse to believe that the matter concerned only money. Ahead of the World Cup, it was derogatory.
« The players insisted on having the money in cash on the spot. We found ourselves in a tight corner because they raised the problem on a Friday and since the next Monday was a public holiday in France, we could not raise the cash during that period. »