Eto’o hon­oured for anti-racism

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA — Lionel Messi (pic­tured) broke a Span­ish hat-trick record and Luis Suarez struck twice as a ram­pant Barcelona took over top spot in La Liga with a 6-1 ham­mer­ing of Rayo Val­le­cano on Sun­day.

Messi came alive af­ter half­time at the Nou Camp to net his 32nd tre­ble for Barca in all com­pe­ti­tions in the space of just 12 min­utes.

It meant he eclipsed the record of the most hat-tricks ever recorded in Span­ish foot­ball that he had shared with Ath­letic Bil­bao striker Telmo Zarra.

The Ar­gen­tine’s sec­ond half tour de force against a side re­duced to 10 men with the dis­missal of Tito - Barca them­selves had Dani Alves sent off late in the game - in­cluded a goal scored from a re­taken penalty af­ter he had seen the first saved.

It helped put Barca back in con­trol at the head of La Liga, af­ter an equal amount of games played, for the first time since the start of Novem­ber.

They moved on to 62 points, a point clear of Real Madrid, who were beaten by Ath­letic Bil­bao on Satur­day, and are now in pole po­si­tion two weeks ahead of Madrid’s visit to their Nou Camp fortress in El Cla­sico.

Barca scored with their first shot on goal af­ter five min­utes with Xavi re­leas­ing Suarez, who tucked a clin­i­cal shot into the cor­ner with the out­side of his right boot.

Four min­utes af­ter half­time, the flood­gates opened when Ger­ard Pique knocked in from close range fol­low­ing a Jordi Alba header from a cor­ner which came back off a post.

When Suarez was felled in the penalty area in the 56th minute by Tito, who re­ceived a red card, Messi’s penalty was saved by keeper Cris­tian Al­varez but the ref­eree or­dered a re­take due to en­croach­ment in the area.

In­evitably, Messi made no mis­take sec­ond time around and he then knocked in a re­bound af­ter 63 min­utes, be­fore com­plet­ing his his­toric hat-trick, the 24th of his La Liga ca­reer, five min­utes later. He now has 32 Span­ish hat-tricks, com­pared to Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s 27.

Al­berto Bueno net­ted a con­so­la­tion penalty for Rayo af­ter he had been fouled by Alves, who was given his march­ing or­ders.

Messi then set up Suarez for his sec­ond in in­jury time to com­plete the rout. — Reuters LIVER­POOL — Liver­pool de­fender Martin Skr­tel (pic­tured) was “fine” af­ter he was stretchered off dur­ing his side’s 0-0 FA Cup quar­ter-fi­nal draw with Black­burn Rovers on Sun­day, manager Bren­dan Rodgers said.

The Slo­vakian cen­tre-back was left flat on his back af­ter a third-minute aerial col­li­sion with Rudy Gest­ede at An­field and re­quired eight min­utes of treat­ment be­fore be­ing taken off on a stretcher, with Kolo Toure com­ing on.

Rodgers re­vealed af­ter­wards that Skr­tel had been taken to hos­pi­tal for a check-up, but played down con­cerns about his health and said that he could even have played on. “Martin Skr­tel is fine,” Rodgers said. “He could have played on, but you have to lis­ten to the med­i­cal team and the ex­perts and he is fine in the chang­ing room.

“He fell heav­ily so there was a feel­ing he could have been knocked out or con­cussed, but I’ll leave that to the med­i­cal ex­perts.”— Reuters LAS VE­GAS — Armed guards pa­trolling the gym where Manny Pac­quiao trains. Stealthy at­tempts to dis­rupt Pac­quiao’s spar­ring. And a bit of trash talk­ing just to spice things up two months be­fore the big fight.

Fred­die Roach may have been in Ma­cau for a ti­tle fight in­volv­ing China’s Zou Shim­ing, but he was mak­ing plenty of noise be­fore his re­turn to Los An­ge­les on Sun­day to train Pac­quiao for his fight with Floyd May­weather Jr set for 2 May. The talk is as old school as Roach, who seems to be giv­ing early no­tice to LON­DON — Foot­ball star Sa­muel Eto’o was hon­oured Mon­day for his “inspiring” stand against racism, as the or­gan­is­ers 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. the May­weather camp that the build-up to the fight will be as in­tense as the bout it­self.

“Floyd is so dis­re­spect­ful,” Roach said by phone from China. “Manny is the per­fect role model for this fight and May­weather is not. I told Manny we’ve got to beat him for the whole world. There’s no way we can’t win this fight.”

For­give Roach if he’s early with the talk, but he’s just warm­ing up. He has to, be­cause he’ll carry the dual role of trainer and chief provo­ca­teur for Pac­quiao, who tends to shy

Eto’o started out with Real Madrid but made his name with Barcelona, be­fore mov­ing on to In­ter Mi­lan, Chelsea and Ever­ton.

In 2005 while play­ing for Barcelona, Eto’o was heav­ily racially abused by Real Zaragoza fans, who made monkey chants when­ever he touched the ball.

The fol­low­ing year, when again be­ing abused by Zaragoza sup­port­ers, Eto’o tried to walk off the pitch, telling the ref­eree “no more”, be­fore his team-mates per­suaded him to com­plete the match.

The ECTR is a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion founded in 2008 which pro­motes un­der­stand­ing be­tween com­mu­ni­ties and mon­i­tors xeno­pho­bia in Europe. It is largely made up of Euro­pean for­mer pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters.

The coun­cil’s pres­i­dent Moshe Kan­tor, also the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Jewish Congress, said re­cent racist in­ci­dents among foot­ball sup­port­ers showed the prob­lem was still “very much alive and well” in the game.

“There is a very strong cri­sis in Europe of racism, rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, neo-nazism and anti-semitism,” he told AFP, cit­ing events in Paris, Bel­gium and Copen­hagen.

Kan­tor said when th­ese things were present in so­ci­ety, they also man­i­fested them­selves in foot­ball sta­di­ums. away from mak­ing any in­flam­ma­tory com­ments about fighters he’ll meet in the ring.

There’s two more months of this to come. Re­al­ity tele­vi­sion couldn’t begin to even think of the plot twists that will take place be­tween the Hol­ly­wood gym where Pac­quiao trains and The Money Team’s digs in Las Ve­gas.

Leave it to Roach, widely ac­knowl­edged as the best trainer in the sport, to of­fer up a few tan­ta­lis­ing morsels to keep the hype go­ing.

He doesn’t much care for May­weather, and be­lieves at age 38, he’s slow­ing down. He thinks May­weather might even be lured by the mag­ni­tude of the fight into do­ing things that will get him in trou­ble.

“Floyd’s legs don’t move like they once did,” Roach told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “He’s very clever but the fight is so big he may feel like he has to take a risk and ex­change with us. If he does that, that’s the best thing in the world for Manny in my mind.”

And if the fight comes down to cor­ner­men, Roach be­lieves May­weather will be in real trou­ble if he’s lis­ten­ing to his fa­ther, Floyd Sr., who took over as his son’s trainer from un­cle Roger May­weather last year.

“Go­ing against Floyd Sr. is a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing,” Roach said. “He just isn’t very good, es­pe­cially dur­ing the fight it­self. One of our ad­van­tages is hav­ing him in the other cor­ner.”

Big fights are noth­ing new to ei­ther boxer, but al­ready this one is prov­ing dif­fer­ent. The build-up to the ac­tual an­nounce­ment of the fight cre­ated hys­te­ria in boxing cir­cles, and the buzz about the big­gest fight in years shows no sign of abat­ing.

To pre­pare for the frenzy, Roach hired seven guards for his Wild Card gym in Hol­ly­wood, where in the past peo­ple milled about in the park­ing lot hop­ing to get a glimpse of Pac­quiao and any­one with even a re­mote con­nec­tion to the fighter could usu­ally man­age to get in­side for work­outs.

“With guns,” Roach said, “so peo­ple re­spect them.”

That’s not the only change in the Pac­quiao camp for the fight that will al­most surely de­fine his ca­reer.

In­stead of do­ing much of his early train­ing in the Philip­pines, Pac­quiao will spend his en­tire camp in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. He’ll spar less, likely 90 to 95 rounds in­stead of the usual 150, be­cause Roach wants to keep his legs fresh at age 36.

First, though, he’ll make a mu­sic video to go with a new song the erst­while singer has recorded for his walk into the ring.

“Manny asked if he could do it and I said OK,” Roach said. “I don’t see it as a dis­trac­tion be­cause his work ethic is so great.”

Roach, who played a big part in get­ting the fight made by bring­ing pro­moter Bob Arum and CBS chair­man Les Moonves to­gether for talks, said he and Pac­quiao have a higher call­ing than just win­ning a fight.

“Manny will be per­form­ing a public ser­vice for boxing when he beats Floyd,” Roach said. — Sapa-ap

“We can no longer pre­tend that hate is a mar­ginal is­sue in Europe.”

He said af­ter French foot­baller Ni­co­las Anelka per­formed the “quenelle” hand ges­ture, which looks like an in­verted Nazi salute, peo­ple all around the world saw it and searched for it on­line be­cause the sport is so hugely popular.

“That’s why we de­cided that we have to turn this in­ter­est into some­thing pos­i­tive,” he said, and high­light Eto’o’s “inspiring” and coura­geous stand.

“Sa­muel Eto’o is well-known as not only a vic­tim of racism but also as a hunter against racism,” he told AFP.

Eto’o has won the Cham­pi­ons League three times, four do­mes­tic cham­pi­onships and the Club World Cup.

Now re­tired from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball, he is Cameroon’s top goalscorer with 56 goals from 118 ap­pear­ances, and has won the Africa Cup of Na­tions twice, as well as an Olympic gold medal.

The ECTR’S first Medal of Tol­er­ance was con­ferred in 2010 on king Juan Car­los I of Spain, with the sec­ond given jointly to Croa­t­ian pres­i­dent Ivo Josipovic and for­mer Ser­bian pres­i­dent Boris Tadic. —

Fred­die roach (left) and manny paquiao

Sam­p­do­ria striker Sa­muel Eto’o.

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