The matter started circulating in the cyber space, more as a rumour than a confirmed fact. It was said that a few years down the line when football star Kylian Mbape started showing promise as a potential football great, his father went to Cameroon and approached the big wigs in the Cameroon football federation and requested them to try out his son.
Instead of commending this fatherly care, dedication and patriotism, Mbape Senior got a shocker of his life. He was told to give a huge sum of money as bribe before his son can be allowed to offer his service to his fatherland in the area he was skilled in. Kylian has a Cameroonian, French and some Nigerian blood in him which gives him the privilege to play for any one of these countries. No one in FECAFOOT gave any thought to trying the young man and finding him to be average or mediocre before finding the justification to ask for bribe to make him fit enough to play for Cameroon. Apparently, it is in their blood to just ask for money first and foremost and if you refuse to oblige them, to carry yourself and your skills away from them.
Mbape, therefore, carried Kylian and repaired to France where he lives and where his son was born, bred and groomed into one of the hottest property in world football today. This story is, certainly, not an isolated one. It is a most familiar one in Africa where bribery and corruption are the greatest anti-development nightmares. Most footballers in Africa who live abroad or were born and raised here have similar or more heart-rending stories of unpatriotism and extortion in the hands of football administrators put in-charge of managing our football in particular and sports in general.
I do not know what now triggered Kylian to come out plainly to denounce Cameroon his original country of birth by saying what he said recently about his father’s failed bid to make him play for Cameroon and his attitude towards that country. Whatever may be the motivation for Kylian confirming the story now and expressing his anger at the Republic of Cameroon, the matter should not stop at this.
Some one somewhere, including CAF and FIFA, should be interested in launching an investigation into this matter by finding out who were officials of the FECAFOOT at the time this incident took place. Once they are found out, they should be made to account for their misdeed which is responsible for Africa missing such a rare gem. As I said earlier, what happened to Mbape is what happens to the whole of Africa and an end has to be put to it.
This suggested inquiry in Cameroon should inspire a CAFinquest into football federations in Africa so that the rotten eggs in those places can be unearthed, punished and removed from the management of the beautiful game. The FIFA World Cup has been won by African talents trained, managed and given chances by especially European countries because evil persons on the continent ‘’reject’’ those who have the potential to win the prestigious cup for Africa. The 1998 team that won the cup for France had over 70 per cent Africans or people of African descent, no thanks to Mbape-like talents overlooked by people who should have gone out of their way to get them into their teams.
The tragedy of Africa is that we are not only denied talents for building our countries in football. This happens in nearly all areas of human endeavour. I hear that one of the best railways engineers in the world is a Nigerian. Yet, Nigeria has one of the most undeveloped railways mode of transportation in the world. We spend millions of Naira to train medical doctors in the country yet many of them cannot be given employment in a neighbouring state because they are non-indigenes. When they migrate to Europe and America, we lament their emigration. We are a confused lot, unsure of exactly what we want. We are not yet ready for nation-building. This, I am sure of.