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February 27, 2006

Ronaldinho stands by Samuel Eto'o

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Ronaldinho Gaucho has backed African striker Samuel Eto'o's response to the racist abuse he received from fans of Real Zaragoza.

As we know, Eto'o tried to leave the pitch in the second half of Saturday's game, after expressing his disgust with the Zaragoza fans for their behaviour.

However, the Cameroonian was convinced to stay by his team-mates and Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard.

Ronaldinho says he would have joined Eto'o in walking off the pitch, as he was dismayed with the torrent of abuse directed at his team-mate.

"I would have gone with Eto'o after hearing the insults he received throughout the game," the Brazilina star said.

"This kind of thing cannot go on. We have to try and abolish these things from football pitches.

"I tried to calm him down and told him that he was bigger than the persons who were insulting him.

"We hope that actions like those of Samuel's mean these kinds of incidents won't occur again."

We can confirm that Victor Esquinas Torres, who was the centre referee during Saturday's match, reported the incidents in his match report, which was posted on the Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) official website.

He wrote down: "In the 76th minute, when Eto'o went to take a corner, the crowd behind the goal started to chant repetitively Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh! Uh!; clearly imitating the sound of a monkey,".

"I stopped the game for two minutes to ask the club to make an announcement over the public announcement system to ask the crowd to stop making these sounds that were in my opinion clearly racist.

"After the corner there was a penalty in Barcelona's favour and when Ronaldinho went to take the penalty the same section of supporters started to make the same kinds of sounds again.

"The message over the PA system asked fans to stop making offensive remarks against the visiting players.

"Despite this announcement, the same kinds of noises were heard from various sections of the crowd throughout the rest of the game every time Eto'o went for the ball."

The RFEF fined Zaragoza over US$700 last season, after a section of their fans directed similar abuse against Eto'o.

We must remember that the club was slammed with another fine in February after another racist incident involving Real Betis's Brazilian forward Robert.