Cameroon star makes Russian flag gesture at World Cup
Gael Ondoua had an image of the Russian tricolor on his boots in Qatar
Russia may be absent from the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but Gael Ondoua, the Cameroonian international midfielder who holds dual Russian nationality, has made sure the country’s flag will at least be present at the tournament.
Cameroon came up short in their first Group G encounter on Thursday, losing out to Switzerland through a single goal from the Cameroon-born Breel Embolo, but second-half substitute Ondoua took to the pitch with boots emblazoned with the flags of both Cameroon and Russia.
Former CSKA Moscow and Anzhi Makhachkala player Ondoua previously spent several seasons in Russian football after emerging from the Lokomotiv Moscow academy in 2014, before moving on to Servette in Switzerland and then settling at German outfit Hannover last year.
But the player’s formative years in football came in Russia, as noted by the Russian passport he holds, and the 27-year-old was apparently keen to pay homage to his footballing apprenticeship on the sport’s biggest stage.
Ondoua made a second-half appearance but his team slipped to defeat.
© Maja Hitij / FIFA via Getty Images
Russia are not participating in the World Cup after being effectively suspended from the possibility of qualification earlier this year when FIFA imposed sanctions on Russian sport in the wake of the country’s military operation in Ukraine in February.
Russian club teams have also been hit with restrictions from playing in European club competitions.
Ondoua’s nod to Russia comes as his Cameroon teammate, Moumi Ngamaleu, is one of just two players competing at the World Cup in Qatar who represent Russian club teams.
Ngamaleu played for Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Premier League after joining the team earlier in 2022 from Swiss team Young Boys.
Former Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is the other Russian-based representative in Qatar, with the Zenit Saint Petersburg man making his first appearance in the tournament for Croatia in their 0-0 draw with Morocco on Wednesday.