Eto’o set to head east into the lion’s den

by admin

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
 

Samuel Eto’o is regarded within the game as one of the lead campaigners supporting football’s bid to rid the game of the cancer that is racism.

So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the Cameroon striker looks set to leave Inter for a team in the Russian Premier Division, a league notorious for having a huge problem with racist behaviour amongst fans.

A fee of around 21m Euros has been agreed between Inter and the wealthy Anzhi Makhachkala, a team from the politically unstable province of Dagestan in the Southern Caucasus region.

Eto’o follows big-name stars such as Yuri Zhirkov and Roberto Carlos in moving to Anzhi. The ambitious project to bring the league title to Dagestan is funded by the club’s owner, oil tycoon Suleyman Kerimov, who is worth US $7.8 billion according to Forbes Magazine.

Eto’o’s soon-to-be teammate and captain Roberto Carlos has twice so far been the target for racists since he arrived at the club in February.

Back in March, Carlos was presented with a half-peeled banana by a Zenit St Petersburg fan during the game at Zenit’s Petrovsky Stadium. Then in June in the South-Eastern city of Samara, a banana was launched onto the pitch when Carlos was in possession during Anzhi’s game against Krylya Sovetov, landing just a few feet from the player.

The veteran fullback looked visibly upset at the final whistle, raising two fingers to display that it had been the second time he had been subjected to such abuse during his time in the country.

Another player to have suffered taunts at the hands of some of Russia’s racist thugs is West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie.

Odemwingie played for Moscow side Lokomotiv between 2007 and 2010. When the Nigerian left for West Brom, Lokomotiv fans unfurled a banner that read ‘thanks West Brom’, the text accompanied by a banana. Lokomotiv fans argued that the banana slang term means to fail a test in Russia, however few took this defence with any credibility.

Former Lokomotiv defender Andre Bikey, now of Burnley also revealed that he had suffered racism during his time in Russia. Bikey suffered regular taunts from fans and there have been no signs of such behaviour subsiding in the country set to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Samuel Eto’o is well-known for his defiant attitude towards racism. Back in February 2006 Eto’o had to be prevented from leaving the field by then Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard after being jeered whenever he touched the ball during a league game in Zaragoza. Similarly in October 2010 the striker suffered racist abuse during Inter’s game at Cagliari resulted in play being stopped in a bid to halt the chanting.

So as Eto’o packs his bags to head east to pick-up his estimated salary of $28m dollars, whether or not he will be the subject of racist abuse will be a good indicator as to the capability of Russia to welcome fans of all races and nationalities who will descend on the country for the 2018 World Cup.

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