The 34-year-old from Cameroon, who now plays for Italian club Sampdoria, said he was targeted after trying to buy a £10,000 watch.
Eto’o — once the world’s highest-paid player on £350,000 a week — had gone into the store with his brother, but said he was viewed suspiciously by the shop assistant: “I went to go buy a watch at a jewellers, not too far from my house. The watch I wanted to see was expensive. I asked the saleswoman — who was also black — ‘Could you show me that watch please?’
“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.”
The striker — the seventh-richest footballer currently playing, with an estimated £62 million fortune — said he asked her: “Was it declined or did you not want it to be accepted?”
He told CNN: “My brother asked, ‘What’s going on?’ And she said, ‘Nothing, nothing.’ But he said, ‘No, because when I came in, I saw how all of you were looking at us ... My brother can afford this and the way you’re treating him shows that you think just because he’s black, he can’t afford this watch.’
“The woman then slipped up and said, ‘No, 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’.”
At Kensington Palace this week, Eto’o, who joined Chelsea for a year in 2013, was presented with the European Medal of Tolerance for his anti-racism work. He said that footage of Chelsea fans stopping a black man boarding a Paris Metro train last month had “shocked” him.