Samuel Eto’o has issued a ‘not-so-sorry’ apology after getting into a physical altercation with an Algerian YouTuber whilst in Dubai for the World Cup.
The ex-Barcelona and Chelsea striker was caught on camera kneeing a man as he filmed him while he left Stadium 974 in Doha where Brazil had just beaten South Korea 4-1 yesterday.
Reports suggested Eto’o lost his temper after a fan – revealed to be named Said Mamouni – asked whether Eto’o had given the referee a bribe before Cameroon’s crucial playoff victory over Algeria in March, which granted Eto’o’s team a place in the World Cup.
The former striker disputed the claim – both verbally and physically – before releasing a statement apologising for his actions, though it’s clear he remains upset over the provocative question.
In his statement, Eto’o wrote: ‘On 5 December, after the Brazil-South Korea match, I had a violent altercation with a person who was probably an Algerian supporter.
‘I would like to apologise for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality. I apologise to the public for this unfortunate incident.
Samuel Eto’o claimed that he’s been targeted with ‘insults’ throughout the World Cup
Footage emerged of the Cameroon FA President attacking a fan after a World Cup match
‘I pledge to continue to resist the relentless provocation and daily harassment of some Algerian supporters. Indeed, since the Cameroon-Algeria match on 29th March in Blida.
‘I have been the target of insults and allegations of cheating without any evidence. During this World Cup, Cameroonian fans have been harassed and pestered by Algerians on the same subject.
‘I would like to mention that the scenario of Algeria’s defeat was cruel but perfectly in line with the rules and ethics of our sport. All the appeals made by the Algerian Football Federation to the competent jurisdictions have been rejected.
‘I therefore call on the Algerian authorities and Federation to take their responsibilities to put an end to this unhealthy climate before a more serious tragedy occurs.
‘To Fennecs’ fans, I wish that they find peace and manage to overcome the disappointment of a painful defeat, now behind us’.
In the footage, Eto’o initially appears happy to pose for photos with waiting fans as he makes his way out of the venue, before the man said to be Mamouni approaches him to his right holding a video camera.
The footage, filmed by La Opinion, then seemingly shows the pair exchanging words, before the video cuts to a few seconds later, and Eto’o returning to the scene to confront Mamouni.
Eto’o then reacts furiously and begins to push the cameraman.
At this point, various onlookers step in to try and quell the disruption, but Eto’o is set on chasing the man and eventually has to be held back as he continues to try and confront him.
With four men holding Eto’o back, the footage then shows him giving his phone to a man, before breaking out of the huddle to knee the man in the face, knocking him to the ground.
The brutal blow appears to occur as Mamouni is bending down, leaving him unaware of Eto’o returning to continue the confrontation.
Eto’o made a direct call-out to the Algerian Football Federation in his statement
The incident that sparked such drama was Cameroon’s controversial World Cup qualifier win over Algeria earlier in the year.
In the match, Algeria had multiple efforts ruled out by Gambian referee Bakary Gassama before Karl Toko-Ekambi scored an eventual winner for Cameroon deep into extra-time.
In a statement after the incident, the Algerian FA wrote: ‘The FAF is determined to use all legally permitted means to have its rights restored and to replay the match under conditions guaranteeing the honesty and partiality of the referee.
‘The FAF also requests the opening of an investigation by FIFA bodies to shed light on the arbitration of the Algeria-Cameroon match.’
Eto’o asked fans ‘to overcome the disappointment of defeat’ after World Cup elimination
Eto’o retired from playing the game in 2019, following a spell in Qatar with Qatar SC. He is most famous for spells with Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea, after coming through Real Madrid’s academy in 1997.
He also has 118 caps for his country – the second-most of any player in history.
It is not the first time the 41-year-old has hit headlines for non-footballing reasons in recent months, having been handed a 22-month suspended prison sentence in June for a £3m tax fraud, having failed to declare income from the transfer of image rights.
According to Sport, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker admitted the offence but alleges that he was a victim of manipulation.
The fraud relates to Eto’o failing to declare income derived from the transfer of image rights to Puma and Barcelona in his personal income tax return between 2006 and 2009.
Eto’o played for Chelsea (pictured) and Everton in the Premier League during his career