PARIS: Cameroon's World Cup team refused to board a plane due to take them to Brazil on Sunday because of a long-running dispute over bonus payments for the tournament.
Cameroon team spokesman Raphael Nkoa told The Associated Press that there were a "certain number of issues" that had to be resolved between the players and management and they had missed the flight to Brazil on Sunday morning.
The squad would fly to Brazil later Sunday, Nkoa insisted. He declined to give details of the payment dispute.
Cameroon players -- which include Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o and Barcelona's Alex Song -- have been in dispute with federation officials for more than a month, when the team threatened to boycott a training session at a pre-tournament preparation camp in Austria because the bonuses promised by the federation for the showpiece weren't enough.
The problems appeared to be partially resolved by the time the squad returned to Cameroon for a final World Cup warm-up game against Moldova on Saturday, but re-surfaced the morning the party was due to head to the World Cup. Local reports in the West African nation said some players even refused to take part in a farewell ceremony with officials after beating Moldova 1-0 in Yaounde.
World body FIFA said they had been given assurances by Cameroon officials that the squad would now depart Yaounde on Sunday night and arrive in Brazil on Monday -- just four days before the four-time African champion opens its World Cup on Friday against Mexico in Group A. FIFA normally requires teams to arrive at least five days before their first game.
"FIFA has assurances that the Cameroon team will fly tonight," the world body said on Sunday.
Cameroon also plays Croatia and Brazil in the group stage.
Cameroon's players have previously had standoffs with the national federation over bonus payments, once ahead of the 2002 World Cup and most recently in 2011 when the team refused to travel from Morocco to play a game against Algeria.
Following the dispute in Morocco, captain and lead striker Eto'o was banned for 15 matches by the federation for his part in the player strike. The punishment was later cut to four games.