Eto’o No! Former Chelsea Striker and 1XBET Ambassador Accused of Match Fixing and Corruption

Samuel Eto'o

Credit: Maxisports / bigstock

It’s not been a good year for Samuel Eto’o.

The former Chelsea striker, a four-time African Player of the Year winner, was appointed as the president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) in December 2021. Since then, he’s been accused of corruption and match-fixing, signed an ambassadorial deal with near-the-knuckle bookmaker 1XBET and been sued by his own daughter.

It got even worse for Eto’o a week or so ago, with Cameroon knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations prematurely – prompting the 42-year-old to tender his resignation as president. Fecafoot rejected his proposal.

From tax fraud to fighting with his own players, no day is a gentle stroll in the park for Eto’o.

Promises, Promises

The match fixing allegations against Eto’o are linked to promises he allegedly made to a friend, the chairman of a second-tier team in Cameroon, who the former Barcelona forward is alleged to have said he would help get promoted.

According to papers filed by Henry Njalla Quan Junior, a former Fecafoot vice-president who helps to run an academy in Cameroon, Eto’o arranged for a match between the academy team and that of Kumba City FC to be rigged in favour of the latter, with further allegations that he promised known associate Valentine Nkwaine, owner of Victoria United, that his side would be promoted.

A taped phone conversation between Eto’o and Nkwaine revealed that the former told the latter, “….there are things we can do, but you have to be very discreet, brother.” As if by magic, Victoria United did indeed ascend – winning eleven of their last seventeen games, having lost four of their first seven.

Njalla Quan Junior then alleged that he received an intimidating message, which purportedly was paid for by Eto’o, that threatened him to ‘be ready to carry the load’ if he crossed with the former Chelsea man, who the post claimed was a ‘mafia’ of football in Cameroon.

It’s worth noting at this stage that these are purely allegations, and an investigation by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is still ongoing.

Back in July, the Cameroon’s Amateur Clubs’ Association (ACFAC) voted 11-1 in favour of demanding Eto’o to stand down as president, citing ‘grave irregularities’ in his conduct after he tried to increase the mandate of the Fecafoot presidential role from the standard four years to seven.

Hedging His Bets

Last year, Eto’o revealed he had become a global ambassador for the notorious betting firm 1XBET – a clear breach of FIFA’s code of ethics.

The Cameroonian took to his social media channels to confirm his delight at the move, telling his many followers to ‘prepare yourself for non-stop excitement with mega bonuses, unlimited options and a safe betting experience.’

But Article 27 of FIFA’s Ethics Code bars any ‘administrator’ of the beautiful game from directly, or indirectly, promoting gambling. Punishments for such breaches can include a three-year ban from an administrative role in football.

1XBET’s year, meanwhile, has been almost as chaotic as that of Eto’o. In January 2023, they were declared bankrupt by the Dutch Supreme Court, and yet they continue to operate – while bringing on board new brand ambassadors.

Despite high-profile sponsorship deals with the likes of FC Barcelona and PSG, 1XBET have also been dogged by rumours about their founders – including unsubstantiated claims that their founder, Sergey Karshkov, died in a ‘medical mishap’ in June.

Separate criminal investigations in Russia and Morocco have also been launched into alleged ‘unlawful practices’, and back in 2021 a subsidiary firm – 1xCorp – filed for bankruptcy after they were sued by a group of punters, who claimed that the company refused to pay them their owed winnings.

At the time of writing, 1XBET does not have a UK licence – that was taken from them by the Gambling Commission over claims that the holding company of 1XBET operated a ‘porn casino’ while accepting bets on children’s sport and cock fighting.

Headache After Headache

You could argue that 1XBET and Eto’o are made after each other.

The former African Footballer of the Year continues to tarnish his reputation, which started with a 22-month prison sentence – suspended, fortunately for him – and a £1.4 million fine after being found guilty of tax fraud.

And then, at the 2022 World Cup, Eto’o was filmed in a violent altercation with an Algerian journalist, in which the former striker appeared to be the aggressor. He subsequently issued a grovelling apology.

As if all that wasn’t enough excitement, Eto’o is now being sued by his estranged daughter over alleged missed child support payments.

And you thought your life was hectic!