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SBD Global/January 4, 2013/International Football

Racist Chants Force AC Milan Players To Walk Off Pitch During Game

Former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng "left the field in protest after suffering what his club AC Milan described as racist abuse during a friendly" on Thursday, according to Richard Arrowsmith of the London DAILY MIRROR. The game between Milan and fourth division Pro Patria was abandoned after Boateng "stopped mid-play in the 26th minute, picked up the ball and kicked it into the crowd." Pro Patria player Dario Alberto Polverini "attempted to talk to Boateng as he departed, but the midfielder carried on walking and the rest of the players and officials followed him off the pitch." Milan Organizing Dir Umberto Gandini wrote on Twitter: "Very proud of the Milan players who decided to walk off the pitch today for racist abuse from few idiots! No racism, no stupidity!" (DAILY MIRROR, 1/3). Boateng tweeted: "Shame that these things still happen... #StopRacismforever." Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told Gazzetta dello Sport: "I'm disappointed and saddened, but I think it was the right decision not to return to the field, out of respect for our players and all other black players." Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini said, "We were annoyed from the beginning. We wanted to give a strong signal ... we could not continue the game in an atmosphere like this" (London GUARDIAN, 1/3).

PLENTY OF SUPPORT: The BBC noted there had been "appeals for the abuse to stop from the public address announcer." Other players, including Man City captain Vincent Kompany, "threw in their support behind Boateng and his teammates." Kompany said, "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." Football Against Racism in Europe Exec Dir Piara Powar called for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) "to take strong action." Powar said, "Italy, as much as any country in Europe, has a serious problem of racism to deal with. Football infrastructure is in need of renewal and at serious odds with the changing nature of Italian society" (BBC, 1/3).
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