Football star Samuel Eto’o was honoured Monday for his “inspiring” stand against racism, as the organizers behind the award warned that prejudice still stalked the game in Europe.
The former Cameroon and Barcelona striker received the Medal of Tolerance from the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) at a gala dinner at London’s Kensington Palace.
Eto’o, who now plays with Sampdoria in Italy, famously tried to walk off the pitch during a Spanish match in 2006 due to the racist abuse he was suffering. “Since that day, I decided I will stand up and fight against abuse,” he said after receiving his award, with Chelsea winger Eden Hazard, Liverpool defender Kolo Toure and former Barcelona midfielder Deco looking on in support. “The only path is to stand up and shout.”
The four-time African Player of the Year urged footballers to take a moral stand. “Only we can make it stop. Because for certain, nobody is going to do it for us,” the 33-year-old said.
He also urged authorities to issue stiff punishments for those caught in the act. “If we give a 300-euro fine, you will see them doing it again,” he warned.
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