Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
MILAN

Soccer: Milan friendly racist chants spark outrage

English
© ANSA

Milan, January 3 - Italian soccer was outraged
Thursday when AC Milan's friendly at fourth-tier side Pro Patria
was abandoned after the Serie A giants' black players were the
target of racist chants from home fans.
The match at Busto Arsizio north of Milan was first
interrupted and then scrapped altogether after Milan captain
Massimo Ambrosini led his teammates off the pitch.
Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng kicked the ball
towards fans who were directing abuse at him before the
action stopped.
M'Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari were also
targeted.
Italian football has been battling racism in the stands for
a number of years after several shameful high-profile incidents.
The head of the Italian soccer federation (FIGC), Giancarlo
Abete, voiced solidarity with the players and club, calling the
incident "an indecent ruckus that offends the whole of the
soccer world".
He also said FIGC prosecutors would be looking into the
case.
In a statement, FIGC said: "No sanction or penalty can
erase the disdain for an unjustifiable and intolerable episode".
"We need to react with strength and without silence to
isolate the few delinquents that transformed a friendly match
into a mess that offends all of Italian football," it said.
Italian players' association president Damiano Tommasi
applauded Milan's decision to walk off.
"It was a good signal, even if a sporting event should
never be placed in doubt by acts like these," said the former AS
Roma and Italy midfielder.
"Pulling out was the right decision when faced with
something like this," said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri.
"These uncivilised gestures must stop. Italy must improve
and become more educated and more intelligent".
"We promise to return (to replay the game), and we are
sorry for the club and players of Pro Patria, but we could not
make any other decision. I'm sorry for the families and children
who had come here to enjoy a beautiful day. I hope this can be
an important signal."
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."
Boateng tweeted "It's a disgrace that things like this are
still happening while star striker Stephan El Shaarawy, also on
Twitter, said: "I'm really speechless, it was a shameful
afternoon. I'm sorry for the intelligent people present at Busto
but it was right to leave".
Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of owner Silvio Berlusconi and
a club director, said: "You need zero tolerance for episodes
like this.
"Matches must be stopped straight away, even in the (Serie
A) championship...You can't always pretend not to see or hear".
Pro Patria said the chanters were a "stupid bunch of three
or four", adding it might try to take legal action against them.
Milan, returning from its holiday break, is preparing to
play Siena on Sunday.
Meanwhile police from nearby Varese, the provincial
capital, said all the offending fans had been identified.
Racism has been a problem in Italian soccer at least since
the 1980s, when Milan's Dutch star Ruud Gullit spoke out against
it.
Messina's Ivory Coast defender Zoro threatened to halt a
Serie A game in Italy in November 2005 after suffering racial
abuse from visiting Inter Milan supporters.
A decade earlier, Aaron Winter, a native of Suriname of
Hindustani extraction, was subject to attacks at Lazio involving
cries of 'Niggers and Jews Out'.
The popularity of Italy striker Mario Balotelli spurred
hopes racism could be stamped out, at least in the domestic
league.
Former Inter Milan forward Balotelli, now at Manchester
City, has repeatedly been subjected to racist taunts playing for
club or country outside Italy.
Anti-Semitism has also been a recurring problem in the top
flight.
In 1989 Israel striker Ronnie Rosenthal, was unable to play
even one game for Udinese because of massive pressure from
neo-Fascist circles.
Lazio supporters, who include a neo-Fascist hard core, were
linked to a brutal assault on Tottenham supporters, a London
club with a Jewish heritage, in a Rome pub in November.

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