Doctrine 2 and MySQL 4.0

I ran into a problem when connecting to a MySQL database from a Symfony 2.0 project using Doctrine. 

The database I wanted to connect to was an older version: 4.0 and apparently it does not support the SET NAMES SQL statement.

The following error was raised:

Exception: SQLSTATE[HY000]: General error: 1193 Unknown system variable 'NAMES' (uncaught exception) at...

Doctrine 2 dispatches a onConnect event to execute this statement every time a connection is made to a database. Unless you do not explicitly define a charset for this MySQL connection.

By leaving the charset option blank in Symfony 2.0 configuration in app/config/config.yml like this:

  default_connection:   default
      driver:   %database_driver%
      host:     %database_host%
      port:     %database_port%
      dbname:   %database_name%
      user:     %database_user%
      password: %database_password%

The Doctrine 2 onConnect event will not execute the SET NAMES statement.