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Personal penalties

Anne Mireille Nzouankeu/Twenty Ten

Location: Yaoundé, Cameroon

The reaction of fans to players’ failures.

Associated Links: Femme de Footballeur(French Translation)

On October 7, 2005, Cameroon played against Egypt, in their last qualifying match for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. At the end of the game, the score was one-all and a penalty shoot-out was necessary.

The shot by Pierre Womé, the Cameroonian defender, hit the post and missed the opponent's nets. Through that missed shot, Cameroon lost the game and failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

When he returned to Cameroon, Pierre Womé received numerous threats and criticisms. Infuriated fans set his girlfriend's hair salon on fire and the player's house, as well as one of his cars, were vandalised.

The anger did not stop there. It also reared its ugly head in the highest echelons of Cameroonian football management. Pierre Womé was systematically dropped from the squad and did not take part in the 2006 African Cup of Nations.

Everyone had quickly forgotten that, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Pierre Womé had scored the last penalty kick which gave Cameroon the Olympic title.

Further afield, supporters are rather more understanding. In the final of the 2006 African Cup of Nations, Didier Drogba, the Ivorian striker, missed a crucial penalty kick against Egypt. Côte d'Ivoire lost the African Champion title contest, but Didier Drogba remains, to this day, adulated by his countrymen. In the 1994 soccer World Cup final, in the United States, Roberto Baggio, the then captain of the Italian national squad, failed to...

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