YAOUNDE (Reuters) — Cameroon's squad left for the World Cup early on Monday after resolving a strike over bonuses that saw them refuse to board their plane to Brazil on Sunday.
The special flight carrying the "Indomitable Lions" left the capital Yaounde at 5 a.m. on Monday after the Cameroonian soccer federation FECAFOOT paid each player a bonus of more than 5 million CFA francs ($10,400), in addition to a 50 million CFA francs bonus paid by the government.
The FECAFOOT payment was equivalent to six percent of the sum the Cameroonian federation is due to receive from FIFA for participation in the World Cup, the officials said.
The FECAFOOT had to take out a loan to pay the players because it would not receive the money from FIFA until three months after the World Cup is over, head of communication Laurence Fotso said.
The players had refused to leave their Yaounde hotel on Sunday for a 4 a.m. ET departure for Rio de Janeiro, where world governing body FIFA said they were expected at 3:25 p.m. ET.
"An agreement was finally reached and I don't want reporters to make a big sensation out of the whole story," said German head coach Volker Finke before the squad took off. "It was not really as great a problem as people made it out."
FECAFOOT interim president Joseph Owona said the situation had been completely resolved.
"We have opted for transparency. There is no problem and I think the team needs to be mobilized so everyone is looking in the right direction and they can do well."
Cameroon has been drawn in Group A along with Mexico, Croatia and the host country, Brazil. Their first march is on Friday against Mexico.
Cameroon's footballers have refused in the past to play because of rows with FECAFOOT over cash. The run up to this tournament has been undermined by disagreements over the payment the squad should receive for playing in Brazil.
Cameroon's players last week threatened to strike until they received promised payment for participating at the World Cup but such action was suspended ahead of the 2-2 draw with Germany in a friendly last Sunday, French sports paper L'Equipe reported.
The players boycotted the traditional handing over of the national flag to the team captain on Saturday after their last warm-up match against Moldova, forcing the prime minister, Philemon Yang, to give it to Finke instead.
Skipper Samuel Eto’o, who did not play in a 1-0 home win over Moldova in a friendly on Saturday, left the stadium just before the final whistle and declined to speak to reporters.