Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, now starring with Russian top-flight side Anzhi Makhachkala, on Monday appealed for calm after episodes of fan violence in recent days sparked waves of arrests.
Police detained more than 100 fans after unrest in Moscow and in St Petersburg, and former Barcelona star Eto’o felt moved to issue an appeal for better behavior.
“We need the supporters and it is important for us that matches are held in a healthy atmosphere,” Eto’o told the Anzhi Web site, warning that even “a small scuffle” could have major consequences.
Hardcore fans of both Anzhi and champions Zenit St Petersburg have recently been involved in clashes with racist undertones — notably when the teams met on Aug. 18 in Makhachkala, Dagestan, in the Caucasus region, leaving one Zenit fan badly hurt.
Three days later, three Anzhi fans were attacked by about 30 Zenit hooligans ahead of a Europa League meeting between Anzhi and Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in Moscow.
Eto’o and his colleagues play their European matches in the Russian capital at UEFA’s behest owing to the unstable political climate in Dagestan.
Racist violence in the Russian game also flared in December 2010 when a Spartak Moscow supporter died after being attacked by youths from the Caucasus.