Eto’o, who had stints with English football clubs Chelsea and Everton, returned to London on Monday to receive the award, and used the opportunity to call for racist soccer fans to feel the full weight of the law.
The striker has severally been singled out for racial abuse during his career; in Spain in 2006, while with Barcelona, he threatened to walk off after Zaragoza supporters made monkey noises whenever he had the ball. In Italy, playing for Inter against Cagliari, the referee stopped the match when Cagliari fans made racist chants.
President of the ECTR, Moshe Kantor, praised Eto’o for having the “courage and will to stand against the racists, building awareness and inspiring fellow footballers and millions of football fans.” Although warning of a growing intolerance problem in Europe, Kantor expressed hope in football as “a very important vehicle to fight racism, Islamic radicalism, neo-nazism and anti-semitism.”
Samuel Eto’o is Africa’s most decorated footballer; he has won the African player of the year four times, and twice lifted the African Nations Cup with Cameroon. Now playing for Sampdoria in Italy, Eto’o has also played for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Anzhi Makhachkala, Chelsea and Everton in a career that has seen him win the Champions League three times.