Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Eto'o Update and Nigerian TV Row


**Note: I still haven't found a place in New York City to watch the African Cup of Nations. If anyone knows a place to watch, please e-mail me at cesarman@yahoo.com and let me know! Thanks!**

An update on Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o's Cup of Nations situation. As reported in yesterday's entry, Barcelona and Cameroon have been arguing over when the star striker would report to Cameroon's pre-Cup camp in Burkina Faso. The Cameroon FA wants him there now, Barcelona want him in Spain for their upcoming matches in the Copa Del Rey and La Liga.

It's finally been sorted out. Barcelona have permission to retain Eto'o for the two games before he joins up with Cameroon, the president of the Cameroon FA confirmed on Tuesday.

"There is no problem. The coach (Otto Pfister) has spoken with the player and accepts that he plays this weekend and then joins the squad, having played two more games with Barcelona," Mohammed Iya told Spanish radio station RAC-1.

Iya admitted Pfister had needed convincing but that the German coach had accepted it would help Eto'o improve his physical fitness after having missed most of the season so far with injury.

Iya's comments supported Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard's assertions that the La Liga club had written permission to retain the player.

"The important thing for Samuel is to play and the federation and their coach have seen that that is best for them and for us," Rijkaard told a news conference on Tuesday.

Barcelona included Eto'o in their squad to face Sevilla in the first leg of their King's Cup (Copa Del Rey) last-16 tie on Wednesday and expect to field him at home to Real Murcia in La Liga on Saturday before he hooks up with Cameroon.

So that's that. Glad the situation was rectified.

But here's an interesting situation that could spell gloom for Cup of Nations viewers in Nigeria.

According to today's BBC, Nigerian broadcasters say they cannot afford to buy the rights to the Cup of Nations.

The Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) says the company that owns the rights wants 3m euros ($4.4m).

More than 30% of Africa's TV audience for football is in Nigeria, BON says.

The group says it can only offer 1.25m euros ($1.8m) for the rights.

"They said our offer was not acceptable, so we said: 'Fine, you can go and set up a TV channel in two weeks, we won't deal with you'," BON chairman Abubakar Jijiwa told the BBC Focus on Africa program.

Many Nigerians fanatically follow their national team, the Super Eagles, and the country is the most populous in Africa. "If you want to ignore Nigeria, good luck to you," Mr Jijiwa said.

Wow, this could get heated. And here we thought the club v. country row was the hottest topic of debate.

Can you imagine Nigeria being shut out from watching the Cup? Tragic.

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