By Usman Bott
AC Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini led his team’s retreat, 26 minutes into a friendly match with Pro Patria, after Pro Patria fans hurled racial abuse at Ghanaian-born Kevin-Prince Boateng. Boateng reacted to the onslaught by picking up the ball and kicking it into the crowd, he then tore off his shirt and walked off the pitch.
On his way out, other sections of the crowd applauded him and reacted angrily towards the sections of the crowd where the racist chants came from. His decision to leave the pitch was supported by manager Massimilliano Allegri, who told Gazzetta
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.”
Whilst the support for Boateng by his fellow team mates, manager and fans was an encouraging sign, the fact remains that he was still shockingly racially abused. Racial insults on main land Europe continue to plague the ‘beautiful game, with footballing authorities such as UEFA paying scant regard. Just last month, Serbia were fined a paltry 65k Euros for their fans' unprecedented racial abuse against English under 21 players.Sadly here too, the spectre of racism in football is never far away. Recently defender Clarke Carlisle, Vice-chairman of the professional footballers’ association said “If you’re a black footballer, you stand as fair a chance of succeeding as a white player. If you are an Asian player you don’t. And when we are talking about coaching and managerial opportunities, and the structures of football, black and ethnic minorities still lag behind their white counterparts”.
Today we must applaud what the Milan team have done to support the Black player/s. If more teams walked off and the offending fans had their team lose points, racism on the field would stop on instant.