“(Business in Cameroon) - Today's meeting was focused on football. We announced MTN’s return to this sport. We will soon sign a contract of three years to sponsor this sport”. These are the comments made by the Managing Director of MTN Cameroun, South African Philisiwe Sibiya, at the end of a meeting at the presidential palace this past 17 March, during which she met with the Secretary General of the Office of the President, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh.
The amount of the contract that the Cameroonian subsidiary of the telecoms firm MTN International is about to sign has not been revealed. But, we learned, funding provided by this mobile telephony company will be mainly directed towards football clubs in the 1st and 2nd leagues.
As a reminder, MTN Cameroun funded Cameroonian football continuously from 2002 to 2012 without a break. But, the mobile operator was forced to announce its withdrawal in January 2013, citing the poor organisation characterising football championships in the country, an organisation which was the time marked by several interruptions, programs and counter-programs, and above all, the lack of enthusiasm shown by the associated unlock for these tournaments.
Despite promises from General Semengué (President of the Professional FootballLeague) to make the competitions more attractive and better organised MTN Cameroun bowed out. A few months ago, we learned, the President of the Professional League went back in search of football funding from MTN Cameroun. With more success this time.
We can notice however that this return from the leader in the Cameroonian mobile market in the football sector comes at a time when Cameroon is back under the African football spotlight. Indeed, the national football, the Indomitable Lions, won the last edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON) organised earlier this year in Gabon, against all expectations. The country will moreover host in 2019 a new AfCON edition, an extremely popular moment for football.
Brice R. Mbodiam