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Football: Edmilson takes some stick over carrot act

CARROTS WERE once reputed to improve a person's ability to see in the dark, but it takes more than sharp eyesight to penetrate the dim depths of the intellect that conjured up the latest in a long line of eccentric, not to say ludicrous, goal celebrations that have begun to illuminate Brazilian club football.

The latest little number, acted out at the weekend by Edmilson, involved the Atletico Mineiro striker pulling a carrot from his shorts after scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory over America and ostentatiously eating it in front of rival supporters.

So was Edmilson showing off the benefits of healthy eating for sportsman? No, he was making fun of the America fans, whose team are known as the Rabbits.

Whatever the carrot act did for Edmilson's digestive system, it certainly did not go down well with America. One America player, Dinho, was sent off for a vicious tackle on Edmilson during the second half in an apparent reprisal.

With both teams coming from Belo Horizonte, Edmilson's performance ranked somewhere between Tottenham fans making donkey noises at Tony Adams and Paul Gascoigne's infamous flute playing during an Old Firm match.

"I didn't want to offend anyone with the joke. It was just to liven up the derby," Edmilson said, explaining that he kept the carrot in his shorts from the start of the game until scoring in the 20th minute.

"Did I find it revolting to eat it? Of course not. I don't find my own body revolting."

He admitted, though, that Dinho was not impressed.

"He said it was a humiliation," Edmilson said. "He was very violent with me and was so angry that he spat in my face. He didn't see the funny side."

The referee, Jose Roberto Wright, who officiated at the 1990 World Cup, was not amused either. "What he did... with the intention of provoking the rival fans, merited a yellow card," he said.

Acclaiming goals with bizarre acts has increased in popularity among players around the world over the past few years, but Brazil probably still leads the way. Two years ago, a Corinthians player provoked uproar by impersonating a floundering fish after a goal against Santos, who are nicknamed The Fish.

One of the most popular is the telephone celebration, in which the scorer runs to the public phone behind the goal at the Maracana stadium and pretends to make a call. Wrong number? Or just a hang-up?