Sat, 30 Sep 2023

Gael Ondoua is part of the Cameroon squad at the tournament in Qatar

Cameroon midfielder Gael Ondoua has said he received insults after playing with boots featuring the Russian flag at the World Cup, but added that he would not be at the tournament were it not for Russia.

Ondoua, 27, was born in Cameroon but also has Russian citizenship. He spent much of his youth in Russia, emerging from the football academy at Lokomotiv Moscow before playing for CSKA Moscow and Anzhi Makhachkala.

He is currently at German club Hannover 96, but his Cameroonian-Russian background is reflected in the boots in which he plays, which have images of both nations' flags.

That fact came to the attention of the media after Cameroon's first World Cup game in Qatar, with sections of the Norwegian press claiming that FIFA should take action against Ondoua, considering the conflict in Ukraine and the ban imposed on Russian football teams.

After appearing as a second-half substitute for Cameroon's thrilling 3-3 draw with Serbia on Monday, Ondoua spoke about the reaction to his flag gesture.

"Everyone knows that I've been playing like this for ten years - with two flags on my boots," Ondoua said, as quoted by TASS.

"Why didn't they notice before and started making noise now? After the first game, seeing my boots, there were so many nasty things written to me from all over the world, but I won't change anything in my life. Thanks to Russia, I'm here."

Speaking to Norwegian outlet NRK last week, a FIFA official said there was no reason to intervene regarding the Cameroon star's boots.

Ondoua was handed a Russian shirt by a member of the crowd at full time at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday, which he carried with him to the locker room.

Serbian fans were also seen showing support for Russia, with one displaying a 50-50 flag featuring half the Russian tricolor and the other half with the Serbian flag.

Monday's draw means Serbia and Cameroon both need to win their final Group G matches to stand any chance of reaching the knockout stages in Qatar.

Serbia play Switzerland on Friday, while Cameroon meet five-time champions Brazil.


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