Barcelona to hold meeting after Eto'o outburst

February 14, 2007

MADRID, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard and sporting director Txiki Begiristain will meet on Wednesday to discuss Samuel Eto'o's public criticism of the Dutch manager and Brazil team mate Ronaldinho.

'Rijkaard and Txiki Begiristain will analyse the situation and take the measures that they consider appropriate,' said the club's communications director Jordi Badia.

An angry Eto'o hit out at Rijkaard on Tuesday after the Dutchman said he had refused to come on as a late substitute in Sunday's 2-0 victory at home to Racing Santander.

'Telling a news conference that I didn't want to play is the behaviour of a bad person,' the Cameroon international told reporters on Tuesday.

Eto'o and Ronaldinho made a public display of reconciliation with an embrace during training on Wednesday as the club tried to heal the rifts caused by the Cameroon striker's recent comments.

The two players hugged each other at the start of training a day after Eto'o had criticised both the Brazilian and coach Frank Rijkaard.

Eto'o made a thinly veiled criticism of Ronaldinho, who had suggested that the striker should put the interests of the team before his own.

'If a colleague comes out and says 'think about the team', then it should be him who should be thinking about the team,' Eto'o said.

But club captain Carles Puyol said on Wednesday that the whole matter had been a misunderstanding and that the problem had been solved by a face-to-face meeting.

'We had a meeting between the captains of the team (Puyol and Xavi) and then spoke to Ronaldinho and Eto'o because it was an important enough matter to talk over together,' Puyol told a news conference.

'What happened is that Ronnie's (Ronaldinho's) comments were misinterpreted. When they both met today it was clear that Ronnie did not want to criticise Eto'o. Eto'o also has no problem with Rijkaard.'

'I can assure you that the whole matter has now been solved,' continued Puyol.

'People think that there is a time bomb in the dressing room, but that isn't true. Rijkaard has got the team under control. Eto'o has a good relationship with the rest of the group and the atmosphere is good.

'Outside the dressing room there may be divisions but not inside. We need to be 100 percent united as we have got a difficult set of matches coming up.'

The club said that Rijkaard and sporting director Txiki Begiristain would meet later on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

Eto'o's outburst prompted local media to speculate that the rivalry between the striker and Ronaldinho could prompt one of them to leave at the end of the season.

The Spanish media have also reported that the political in-fighting at the club could lead to Rijkaard quitting when the season ends, with his former team AC Milan tipped as a possible destination.

Eto'o, who is returning to action after four months out with a knee injury, said he had refused to come on against Santander because he needed to warm up for a longer period.

He added he was a doubt for next week's Champions League last 16 first leg match against Liverpool.

'My knee is a bit strange at the moment and I can't guarantee that I will be ready for the game,' he said.