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Sunday, February 26, 2006
Eto'o almost leaves pitch after racist abuse

MADRID, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Barcelona playmaker Ronaldinho said if his team mate Samuel Eto'o had walked off the pitch on Saturday after being racially abused during their Primera Liga match at Real Zaragoza, he would have gone as well.

The Cameroon international tried to leave the pitch in the second half, appearing to say that he was fed up with the racial abuse being directed at him by the home fans, but was convinced to stay by players and coach Frank Rijkaard.

'I would have gone with Eto'o after hearing the insults he received throughout the game,' Ronaldinho told reporters.

'This kind of thing cannot continue. We have to try and abolish these things from football pitches.

'I tried to calm him down and told him that he was bigger than the people who were insulting him. We hope that actions like those of Samuel's mean these kinds of incidents won't happen again.'

After the game, which Barca won 2-0 to go nine points clear at the top of the table, referee Victor Esquinas Torres detailed the incidents in his match report which was posted on the Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) official website.

'In the 76th minute, when Eto'o went to take a corner, the crowd behind the goal started to chant repetitively Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!; clearly imitating the sound of a monkey,' said Esquinas Torres.

'I stopped the game for two minutes to ask the club to make an announcement over the PA system to ask the crowd to stop making these sounds that were in my opinion clearly racist.

'After the corner there was a penalty in Barcelona's favour. When Ronaldinho went to take the penalty the same section of crowd started to make exactly the same kinds of sounds again.

'The message over the PA system asked fans to stop making offensive remarks against the visiting players.

'But despite this announcement the same kinds of sounds were heard from various sections of the crowd throughout the rest of the game every time Eto'o went to dispute the ball.

'The same occurred at the end of the game from the crowd at the side of the pitch when Eto'o went to leave the pitch.'

The RFEF normally only reacts to such incidents if they are detailed in the referee's official match report.

Zaragoza were fined 600 euros ($713.6) by the RFEF last season after a section of their fans directed similar abuse against Eto'o.

Earlier this month, the club was fined a similar amount after some of their fans directed racist insults at Real Betis's Brazilian forward Robert.

In November, Messina's Ivory Coast defender Zoro threatened to halt a Serie A game in Italy after suffering racial abuse from visiting Inter Milan supporters.

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