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).
North Korean footballer Jong Tae-se, who has been on the national team for the past six years, "has agreed to play" for K League club Suwon Bluewings in South Korea, according to Moon Gwang-lip of the KOREA JOONGANG DAILY. He will transfer from Germany's 2nd Bundesliga club 1. FC Koln. His move marks "the first time a North Korean player of this caliber will play" in its southern neighbor, although several other footballers with North Korean citizenship have competed in the K League. Bluewings GM Lee Ho-seung revealed that the transfer fee is €300,000 ($394,410). The two sides "plan to sign the agreement this weekend" (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 1/4). YONHAP noted Jong's salary "is reportedly around 400M won ($376,000)." Jong "first expressed his interest in the K League in November." Officials of Suwon and Ulsan Hyundai Tigers said that Jong's agent contacted them at that time "with an eye on the '13 season" (YONHAP, 1/3). Lee said, "We've reached an agreement with Koln to transfer Jong to us. Jong will arrive here as early as next Monday for a medical test. If he passes the test, we will sign a contract with him" (AFP, 1/3).
A NEW YEAR: YONHAP also reported the K League unveiled "new names for its two divisions for the upcoming season, along with a new logo based on the colors of the country's flag." The first division will be called the K League Classic, while the second tier will be called the K League. The K League had previously been hyphenated (YONHAP, 1/3).
Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen Sport Dir Rudi Völler "is calling for a schedule change in favor of more Sunday matches to help the Bundesliga's Europa League participants," according to KICKER. Only on five matchweeks per season does the Bundesliga allow three Sunday games. The German Football League (DFL) has used this option already four times in the first half of the season. And due to the fact that all four German Europa League teams, Stuttgart, Gladbach, Hannover and Leverkusen, are still in the competition, the possibility of a team having two games in less than 48 hours is increased in the upcoming months. Völler said, "It is preposterous that Europa League teams have to play on Thursday and on Saturday in the Bundesliga. I hope DFL boss Christian Seifert together with [Managing Dir] Andreas Rettig, which I both highly value, can improve this area during the negotiations with the league's partners for the upcoming season. After all, it works in other European leagues." He added: "It is too bad that clubs such as we, Stuttgart, Mönchengladbach or Hannover are punished for success" (KICKER, 1/3).