It has been said that « money » is the root of « all evil ». Not many may agree with this age-old aphorism. Within the entourage of the Indomitable Lions, it is difficult to get anybody to accept the aforementioned adage. The players are not drawn from the local amateur league in Cameroon where the main actors live barely above the poverty line.
Almost all the twenty three on the list of World Cup 2002 are highly paid professionals with multiple bank accounts and numerous credit cards. The world of top stars in sports and culture is that of jackpots in bonuses, stipends and contracts. With the addendum of sponsoring and all other forms of legitimate and legal kick-backs, financial figures are usually in geometrical progression. It is therefore understandable when bonuses of the Indomitable Lions are calculated not in consonance with the macro economic evaluations of the nation, but in keeping with life-styles in the Western hemisphere. Some Cameroonians cannot understand how in less than two weeks another Cameroonian can earn CFA forty two million after playing two matches. Even within the official delegation accompanying the national team voices are raised on the morality of such payments.
The technicals crew, the medical corps and the administration of the national team usually benefit from the same bonus like the Indomitable Lions. These exclusive club of about thirty create a syndrome of jackpot in a delegation of hundreds from the same country with some barely capable of feeding themselves. The presence of various sponsors, promoting diverse products, adds up to the aura of flowing cash around the Lions. Attempts by officials to reduce the physical cash flow and transform it to paper work was resisted in Paris on the eve of the World Cup. With so much money changing hands, it is obvious that the « evil odour » of the notes repels good-luck and ignites schemings of various angles. The temptation of paying for visible and invisible services becomes possible with the presence of huge bags of money. The geometrical progression from CFA three million for a World Cup match victory in 1990 to CFA eight million in 2002 is out of proportion with the generalised reduction of salaries nationwide. That said, no one is against the motivating factor and the policy of rewarding the Cameroonian youth for services rendered to the nation. The problem today is that of methods. Huge rewards in advance of satisfactory results can be counter productive.
The time has come to subject national ovations and financial rewards to concrete results. The jackpot syndrome has to be demystified with rewards shifting from material gains to more patriotic images. When players enter into a rebellion a few days to a World Cup only for reasons of bonus payment modalities, not for the absence of money, then there is something wrong with our value system. If nothing is done and fast, future footballers will one day hold the nation hostage at a vantage occasion. The cult of patriotism has to be inculcated not only on the sportsmen and women but in the national psyche. The officials themselves have to emit values of probity and transparence in the management of public funds before they can afford to give the main actors any lessons on patriotism. Footballers, amateurs or professionals are a microcoism of the national character. The demystification of the jackpot syndrome has to spread to all aspects of national life so that it can be enshrined in our repertoire of national values. The success in future football expeditions rest with this change in attitudes.