Soccer superstar Samuel Eto has dealt with racism both on and off the field.
Once the highest-paid soccer player in the world, Samuel Eto’o claims his money wasn’t welcome at a posh London jewelry store simply because of the color of his skin.
The Cameroonian striker, who earned a then-record £17.9 million ($27 million) per year salary with Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala between 2011-13, told CNN that he and his brother were denied service at the unnamed boutique when he tried to buy a £10,000 ($15,000) watch.
“The watch I wanted to see was expensive. I asked the saleswoman – who was also black – ‘Could you show me that watch please?’” Eto’o, now with Sampdoria in Italy’s Serie A, said of the disturbing experience.
“First, I saw her turn to her co-workers like, ‘Uh, what should I do?’ Eventually, she let me see the watch. I looked at it and said, ‘OK, I’ll buy it.’ I took out my credit card and when she went to go run it through the machine, she came back and said it was declined.”
Worth an estimated £62 million ($92 million), according to the London Evening Standard, the 34-year-old Eto’o then challenged the shopkeeper by asking, “Was it declined or did you not want it to be accepted?”
After going back-and-forth with Eto’o and his brother, the woman reportedly explained to them that “it’s just that we had some Nigerians in the store the other day who came in with fake credit cards.”
“I don’t know if you can imagine the weight of what she said. If one of my own makes a mistake, they judge us all. I don’t think she’s a racist person, but she stereotyped all black people as ‘those people.’”
Eto’o has been the target of bigotry on the soccer pitch as well, most notoriously a 2006 incident in Spain that caused the then-Barcelona striker to storm off the field in rage after hearing racist taunts from fans of home club Zaragoza.
“No more. No more. No more,” the four-time African Player of the Year reportedly said before head coach Frank Rijkaard coaxed him back onto the field to finish the game.
Just this week, Eto’o recieved the Medal of Tolerance from the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) in London for his “inspiring” stance against racism.