A French investigative journalist has come out intending to sue the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) after the body published a statement accusing the journalist of attempted blackmail and extortion. Last week Friday, Fecafoot stated that one ‘Romain Molina’ had proposed to drop a story alleging irregularities within Cameroonian football if he was paid 25,000 euros by its president, Samuel Eto’o.
Journalist Romain Molina to Sue Cameroon
In response, Molina has said the attempted blackmail came from someone impersonating him, adding this should have been clear to the country’s Fecafoot president Samuel Eto’o. It was alleged that it was he that the journalist contacted regarding a separate matter in March.
Molina said: “The only time I spoke to Eto’o was in March – and the conversation I had was to warn him about paedophilia cases in a big football academy in Cameroon.” Molina has published several articles revealing sexual abuses in sports. He said a simple check of the phone numbers sending messages to Eto’o would have established that they came from different accounts.
He also said: “That so-called number pretending to me is not my number, nor my picture and the guy doesn’t know how to write French properly – there are big mistakes,” he added of a screengrab he has seen of the imposter’s WhatsApp messages.
“So it’s scandalous because when you look at the statement of Fecafoot, they didn’t say it’s me but everyone will believe it’s me. “My lawyer will sue because it’s a big lie.”
In the statement on Friday, Fecafoot explained that their president Samuel Eto’o who took charge of the body last year had been contacted “by a correspondent introducing himself as Romain Molina”. “He purported to have documents and a flash drive containing audio and telephone conversations that were harmful to the image of the Federation and its president.” “Romain Molina added that he was ready to renounce the publication of these elements in exchange for a payment of 25,000 euros.
“The president of Fecafoot never followed up on this request, because it is a principle not to negotiate with blackmailers. In any case, Fecafoot is considering filing a complaint with the French justice system regarding this attempted extortion.”
The Fecafoot statement referred to accusations by Molina in an online video that “Cameroonian players have paid to be called up to the national team”, which the journalist does not dispute. While saying that he was repeating allegations previously made by other news organisations, he said his contact with Eto’o was solely about the sexual abuse allegations at the relevant academy in Cameroon.
Molina maintains that Fecafoot which has been contacted for comment – failed to carry out its due diligence before publishing its statement. “My client is used to revealing horrible facts relating to football,” said Molina’s France-based lawyer Mokhtar Adbennouri.
“However, it is the first time he has been deeply defamed and smeared in an official statement of a football federation. It is unacceptable that a national organisation assumes the right to discredit a journalist.” The former Chelsea and Barcelona striker was recently in Qatar for the ongoing World Cup where Cameroon exited in the group stage, having signed off with a stunning 1-0 win over Brazil.