Eto'o: racists would 'kill a black referee'

Samuel Eto'o, the Barcelona striker, believes the problem of racism in Spanish football has escalated to the extent that the authorities could never appoint a black referee as fans "would kill him".

Samuel Eto'o, the Barcelona striker, believes the problem of racism in Spanish football has escalated to the extent that the authorities could never appoint a black referee as fans "would kill him".

The Cameroon international, who has retained his title as African Footballer of the Year, spoke out before last night's tsunami charity match at the Nou Camp after another weekend of action in La Liga was tainted by racist chanting.

When asked whether a black referee could ever take charge of a Primera Liga game, Eto'o said: "What? A referee here like the black referees in England? If one arrived here, then they would kill him. Referees are all hated and seen in a bad light and if on top of this they were black, then you can guess what would happen."

Eto'o, not for the first time this season, was on the receiving end of abuse on Saturday after monkey taunts reverberated around Real Zaragoza's La Romareda stadium following his goal in Barça's 4-1 win. Peanuts were also reportedly thrown on to the pitch.

The striker, who has scored 17 goals this season and who was also abused during Barça's game at Albacete earlier in the season, responded by mimicking a monkey.

"People paid for their tickets to see a monkey and so I did it. I am an actor on the pitch, and they paid to see me," Eto'o said. "Each time that this happens then I will do it, the referee did not respond as the one in Albacete but everyone interprets it in their own way."

Racist chanting has been prevalent at a number of matches in the Primera Liga this season and the situation came to the attention of a greater audience when the England internationals Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole were abused during November's friendly between Spain and England at the Bernabeu in Madrid.

Eto'o also agreed with comments made by Manchester United's Gary Neville that Nike's current anti-racist campaign is nothing more than a publicity stunt. "The advertising against racism is good and I am grateful for it but in the end it is all about money. We do the filming and then they sell the name," Eto'o said.

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