Karl Marx claimed that religion was the opium of the people. Pier Paolo Pasolini updated that remark by saying that today the opium is football. Thus Cameroon, led for the last 35 years by the 81-year-old Paul Biya and about to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019, is now tasked with a double mission of proving that it is a truly democratic country with the organisational capacity for such an event. The challenge appears to bear out Pasolini’s thinking; the relationship between sports and politics, between football and power is growing in Africa. But we should first turn to the state of the country’s infrastructure, where things don’t seem too bad off.

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