By Kevin Koczwara
Samuel Eto’o scored his sixth goal in seven games for Internazionale on Sunday in the team’s, 1-0, win over Cagliari in front of a hostile crowd that partook in exposing the ugly side of Italian soccer: Racism.
The Italian national team called off a Euro 2012 qualifying match with Serbia after Serbian fans rioted in Genoa. The game had to be called after six minutes of play after Serbs threw flares onto the field and at rival Italian supporters. The riots filtered out into the streets, and the Italians were left wondering why the Serbs acted in the manner they did.
Then the fans in Cagliari showed the world that Italians still have a hard time with keeping up with FIFA’s “Say No to Racism” campaign and FARE (Football Against Racism in Euorpe). The referee of the match suspended play in the third minute because of the chants directed at Eto’o. Serie A officials gave referees the power to suspend play after Mario Balotelli was hounded and smeared by Juventus fans two years ago.
The referee has be commended for his actions and showing the crowd that no player or person deserves to be treated as Eto’o was being treated. The Cagliari fans were no better than the Serbs that ransacked Genoa, and the Serbian Footballing Association should take note of the actions of the referee and suspend some of the Serbian National team’s games because their its fans took bribes and embarrassed the country on a world stage with thi
Eto’o goalscoring prowess never in doubt
Former Inter Milan manager, Jose Mourinho, swindled Barcelona into trading the rights to Eto’o and Alexander Hleb – who they chose not to keep – plus $64 million for Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic over a season ago. The treble winning Barcelona side missed Eto’o’s scoring ability and pace in the team’s Champions League matches. Eto’o fit into Barcelona’s style of play, while Ibrahimovic floundered and forced a move out of Camp Nou this summer back to Italy and to Inter’s cross-town rivals AC Milan for $33 million.
While Ibrahimovic struggled to play up to his costly price, Eto’o took on a new role with Inter Milan and won his second treble in as many years as Mourinho and company won the Champions League along with the Italian Cup and Serie A. The Cameroonian was asked to play out wide as a midfielder rather than the central striker role, his preferred position. Eto’o did well out wide, taking on defensive responsibilities and scoring on the few chances he had. But for the most part, much of the scoring was done by Diego Milito on the counter attack.
Eto’o scored only 12 goals in 27 matches last year in Serie A, his lowest output in league play since 2006/07 when he scored 11 times in 17 matches. The former Barcelona man moved to Milan after scoring 30 league goals, and he found himself on the outside looking in as Milito took on the job as the central attacker and primary goalscorer for Inter.
With the injury to Milito this year, Eto’o has taken on the role of primary goalscorer for new Inter Milan manager Rafa Benitez. Eto’o has socred six goals in seven league matches and one assist to go along with his four goals in two games in Champions League play thus far.
Eto’o has risen to the challenge once again, and he is probing again this season that Barcelona should never have sent him packing because he still has the magic touch in front of the net and the ability to break opponents hearts with one swift strike of the ball from almost anywhere on the field.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at email@example.com.