Boateng vows to repeat walk-off
Soccer:AC Milan’s midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has insisted he will walk off the pitch in a competitive game if he is subjected to racist abuse again and his stance has been backed by club president Silvio Berlusconi.
The AC Milan team, led by Boateng, left the pitch on Thursday after the German-born Ghanaian international was racially abused by opposition fans during a friendly against fourth division side Pro Patria in northern Italy.
The player’s decision has received almost unanimous approval, but some have questioned whether he would, or should, do it in a meaningful game.
Speaking to CNN today, he insisted he would not hesitate in doing so.
"I don't care what game it is - a friendly, Italian league or Champions League match - I would walk off again," he said. "I'm sad and angry that I'm the one that has to take action. All the people who support me would support me in a big game. Players like Rio Ferdinand and Patrick Vieira have supported me and I just want to say thank you."
Boateng made the referee aware of the abuse during the game, but was not happy with the lack of support from the official.
"If it happens again I'm not going to play anymore," he added. "The referee said: 'Don't worry' but I said I do worry, it's not very nice.
"I was angry and I was sad, but it all came together and I said I don't want to play anymore. There were so many negative emotions that came up with me. I'm surprised we're still hearing these things in 2013. It's not the first time in my life that I've heard these things, but I'm 25 now and I've had enough of this."
Berlusconi insists he will backs his players if they choose to take a similar stand in the future, but PFA chief Gordon Taylor insists it should be the referee who abandons the match.
“I called Kevin-Prince Boateng a little while ago and I congratulated him for his reaction against the disgraceful episode of racism that took place in the stadium of Pro Patria in Busto Arsizio.
“I am very happy by Milan’s reaction and be assured that in all games where we experience episodes of this kind, Milan will leave the field.”
Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, said the onus should not be on players to take such drastic action.
He said: “The racist abuse should be reported to the match officials by the player and team captain, and then the crowd warned if the racist abuse continues the match will be abandoned.
“If the abuse does continue then the officials should abandon the game. The warning will also be an opportunity for responsible fans to influence those who are perpetrating the abuse.”
Fifa and Uefa have previously warned against players taking such action. Fifa would not comment directly on the Boateng incident but a spokesman said in a competitive match the referee would report the incident and then the disciplinary committee of the competition’s organisers would make a decision.
The spokesman said: “It would be for the referee to report and the disciplinary committee would have to look into it.”
Italy has long had a problem with racist abuse from fans but Milan’s former midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, now playing in Switzerland with Sion, has controversially downplayed the incident.
The former Rangers player told the Corriere della Sera: “I’ve lived 5km away from Busto Arsizio for years and that area is full of foreigners. There are no racists in Busto. What happened yesterday was the fault of a group of imbeciles. How many times have there been boos against white players in the past? It’s happened to me to but I didn’t give it any importance.
“Boateng certainly felt he was offended but I continue to not see it as racism. It just seems to be the latest episode of collective idiocy from a minority. If we are convinced that there is a racism problem then strong decisions need to be made. I, however, continue to believe that Italy is not a racist country.”