Cameroon banned reigning African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto'o for 15 matches Friday after a players' strike forced a friendly fixture in Algeria last month to be cancelled.
The surprisingly harsh punishment was meted out by the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) disciplinary committee and reported on the website of the governing body.
National team striker and captain Eto'o has been voted African Footballer of the Year a record four times and has represented the Cameroonian 'Indomitable Lions' for more than a decade.
But the Russia-based striker has frequently disagreed with officials -- especially on money issues -- and took the brunt of the blame when a strike prevented the Algeria match going ahead.
Cameroon had beaten Sudan and drawn with hosts Morocco in a four-nation Marrakech tournament and were due to wrap up a hectic friendlies schedule against Algeria.
Eto'o and his team-mates claimed they were not paid money due to them by FECAFOOT and the fixture had to be canned with Algeria claiming one million dollars compensation for lost revenue.
The star has two weeks to appeal the ban which would rule him out of a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tie in Guinea Bissau on February 29 next year and 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya in June.
Vice-captain Eyong Enoh, who plays for Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, was given a two-match ban for his role in a strike which caused huge embarrassment for Cameroon football.
Tottenham Hotspur defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto, another footballer involved in endless disputes with the Cameroonian authorities, received a 2,000-dollar fine for not honouring a call-up to the Marrakech tournament.
Eto'o, who played for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan before joining Anzhi Makhachkala last August for a reported world record salary, and Enoh attended a FECAFOOT disciplinary hearing last Monday.
Rumours spread soon after that Eto'o faced a seven-match suspension from a national team struggling to maintain its status as one of the best on the continent.
More than doubling the ban to 15 matches is sure to trigger outrage among supporters with Eto'o seen as the team catalyst despite proving an unsuccessful skipper since replacing veteran defender Rigobert Song two years ago.
Cameroon lost all three pool matches in one of the weaker 2010 World Cup first round mini-leagues and were the first country eliminated from the tournament in South Africa.
More disappointment followed in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with the Indomitable Lions finishing a distant second behind Senegal and not reaching the finals for the first time in 18 years.