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Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Hayatou notes racist incidents in matches in Europe

CAIRO, Egypt -- Africa's top soccer official wants Europe to do more to combat racism.

Issa Hayatou said Wednesday that repeated occurrences of racism at European soccer games "oblige us to be extremely vigilant." He appealed to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Lennart Johansson, president of the Union of European Football Associations, to assist in the effort.

Hayatou, president of the Confederation Africaine de Football, spoke at his organization's congress, three days after Athletic de Bilbao coach Javier Clemente criticized Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o for spitting toward Athletic defender Unai Exposito during a game.

"I thought those who spat had just come down from the trees," said Clemente, a former coach of Spain's national team. He later denied his comments were racist.

Eto'o, who like Hayatou is from Cameroon, was selected Africa's player of the year the past two years.

Blatter told the congress he will "continue to fight for a better African representation at the World Cup." The tournament will be in Africa for the first time in 2010, when South Africa is the host. Africa will have five teams at this year's World Cup in Germany.

The African congress was held ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which starts Friday.

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