Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o gets a little touchy when reporters question his plays. (AFP)
Beware of questioning the performance of Cameroonian international soccer superstar Samuel Eto'o on the field. The act could result in a head butt--as reporter Philippe Boney experienced in 2008--or in rough words, as a Senegalese reporter experienced in a postgame press conference on Saturday.
That day, Cameroon's Indomitable Lions lost to Senegal's Lions 10 in a qualifier match for the 2012 African Nations Cup in what observers considered an upset. In the postgame press conference in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, Moussa Tandian, a local correspondent for leading Cameroonian independent broadcaster Equinoxe, asked the 30yearold striker and team captain whether he thought the disappointing performance meant that the golden era of his generation of players had passed.
The answer came with contempt as Eto'o lashed out at Tandian while the cameras were rolling. "I'm rather surprised, dear brother, because you are making yourself noticed negatively," Eto'o said. "You should rather think about excusing yourself." Eto'o told the journalist he should "thank" Cameroonian players for their performance. "I think that you are not Cameroonian," he went on. "I will speak to your boss at Equinoxe because you don't deserve to work for this wonderful channel." He went on to say he was struggling to make Cameroon and Africa proud before questioning the motives of critical journalists. "You journalists, certain journalists like you, you who do not want Africa to advance, you who do not want Cameroon to advance, you are always negative, try to change a little," he said, as he pointed to Tandian.
Eto'o later apologized to Tandian, according to Théophile Biamou, a top executive for Equinoxe. "There are no bad questions," Biamou said to CPJ after the apology. "There are rather bad answers."
A video of the exchange has already registered more than 10,000 views since it was posted on YouTube on Tuesday.
Mohamed Keita is advocacy coordinator for CPJ's Africa Program. He regularly gives interviews in French and English to international news media on press freedom issues in Africa and has participated in several panels. Follow him on Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ.