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WE DON’T TAKE RUBBISH: African soccer star walks off the pitch, stops match over racism

By News Express on 04/01/2013

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This is the story of a revolution in the works. In a move never seen before in world soccer, Ghanaian international Kevin-Prince Boateng of AC Milan of Italy last night dramatically ended a match when he led his team off the pitch in protest against racist chanting by a section of the home fans.

Boateng became the first player to cause a game to be abandoned because of racist abuse after his team-mates followed him off the pitch in protest at his treatment by opposition fans. He launched his revolution during a friendly match away to fourth division side Pro Patria.

In the past, there had been cases of players storming off the pitch due to racism but somehow, they were either persuaded to return or were substituted. For example, Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o walked off the pitch while playing for Barcelona against Real Zaragoza in 2006, but was persuaded to return by teammates and the match continued.

Similarly, Brazilian full back Roberto Carlos left the pitch after a banana was hurled at him while playing for Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala against Krylya Sovetov Samara in June 2011, but he was substituted and the match continued.

But yesterday’s case was different. Boateng, with the full support of his AC Milan colleagues, forced the end of the match against Pro Patria after only 25 minutes of play.

“The former Portsmouth and Tottenham midfielder was so incensed by the chants emanating from one corner of the ground that he picked the ball up and booted it towards the offending supporters in the stands before ripping off his shirt and storming off the pitch,” reports Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

“There was a brief period of confusion as players from both sides tried to talk to Boateng, but Milan’s Italian captain Massimo Ambrosini instructed the rest of the Milan team to walk off in a show of support for Boateng,” the paper adds.

Boateng has received worldwide support for his act of defiance. Writing on Twitter, Nigeria’s international sports journalist Osasu Obayiuwana said: “Well done, Kevin Prince Boateng, for walking off the pitch. Why should African/black players tolerate this nonsense? Enough is enough!”

On his part, Lagos-based marketing communications expert and soccer buff Gbenga X-adebija wrote on Facebook: “AC my fave team in serie A.. Wonderful response to racism.”

Elsewhere, anti-racism campaigners in Britain and fellow professionals across the game have also expressed their support for Boateng’s show of defiance. “It could set an example for other black players to follow in competitive fixtures, thus challenging UEFA’s policy that players must remain on the pitch, regardless of crowd chants,” according to the Telegraph.

Giancarlo Abete, president of the Italian Football Association president, said the incident “unspeakable and intolerable” and called an immediate inquiry. “No sanction or measure can erase the disdain for an unspeakable and intolerable episode,” he said. “We must react with force and without silence to isolate the few criminals that transformed a friendly match into an uproar that offends all of Italian football.”

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said he hoped his players had set a precedent in Italian football, which has long been plagued by ­racist chanting and abuse. “I hope that [our actions] will be followed if it were to happen in official games, from the amateur championships to Serie A,” he said.

“We are disappointed and saddened by what has happened. Milan play for the right to respect all players. We need to stop these uncivilised gestures. We are sorry for all the other fans who came here for a beautiful day of sport. We promise to return, and we are sorry for the club and players of Pro Patria, but we could not make any other decision,” he added.

Before Boateng was targeted, teammates Urby Emanuelson, M’Baye Niang and Ghanaian compatriot Sulley Muntari had also been racially abused during the match.

“We were annoyed from the beginning,” said Ambrosini, whose support for Boateng was significant because it meant the game had to be abandoned. “We wanted to give a strong signal. We could not continue the game in an atmosphere like this.”

Milan’s organising director Umberto Gandini said the club had given Boateng and Ambrosini their full support: “It is so sad but we had to give a strong signal. Very proud of all Milan’s players for their decision.”

Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, was one of several Premier League players to congratulate Boateng. He wrote on Twitter: “How about becoming extremely intolerant towards racist idiots? They need to be told. I can only salute Milan’s decision to leave the pitch. Also noted that the majority of the fans were completely supportive of the players.”

Boateng, who has been playing in Italy since 2010, was more modest, merely saying on his Twitter page that “it’s a shame these things still happen £StopRacismforever”.

Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, called for the Italian FA to take strong action. “We salute Kevin-Prince Boateng for his actions,” he said.

•Photo: We can take it no more – The moment Boateng (second right) leads the walkout.

Source News Express

Posted 04/01/2013 10:44:23 AM





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