Eto’o honoured for anti-racism
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.