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Eto'o calls for tougher measures to combat racism

Written by: Staff

MADRID, March 1 (Reuters) Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o wants tougher punishments for racist abuse after being subjected to insults in a league match against Real Zaragoza.

''We need exemplary punishments,'' the Cameroon international told a news conference today. ''Maybe it would make people think again if they closed the Zaragoza stadium for a year and made them play all their matches away from home.'' Eto'o tried to leave the pitch during last Saturday's match having been targeted for racial abuse by Zaragoza fans, but Barca coach Frank Rijkaard persuaded him to play on.

''It wasn't just a few fans, it was practically the whole stadium,'' Eto'o said. ''I decided to stop playing because they were attacking me because of my colour.

''What made me go back was the boss telling me that the best way to shut them up was to beat them. That is the only thing that made me change my mind.

''I don't know whether I was right or not to carry on playing, but I just tried to put what had happened out of my mind.'' Barca scored two goals in the remaining 11 minutes of the game, the second of which was set up by Eto'o.

Zaragoza were fined 9,000 euros (10,750 dollars) by the Spanish Football Federation for the incident, but Eto'o said that financial punishments for clubs were unlikely to provide the solution.

''If it is just the clubs that are fined, then people know they can get away with it. We need to work together to find the answers, the law and the legal system can help deal with the problem too.'' Eto'o was asked why he had not made a similar condemnation of the actions of his former coach Luis Aragones who made disparaging remarks about French striker Thierry Henry to his Arsenal colleague Jose Antonio Reyes during a Spanish team training session in October 2004.

''A guy like Luis isn't racist,'' Eto'o replied. ''He chose the wrong words and comments like his usually remain in the dressing room.'' REUTERS PDS PM2128

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