Domenica, 23 Settembre 2018

Soccer: Berlusconi vows Milan to stand up to racism


Milan, January 4 - Owner Silvio Berlusconi said
Friday that AC Milan would abandon any matches, including
Champions League games, tainted by racist abuse like that which
caused his players to walk off a friendly against fourth-tier
Italian side Pro Patria on Thursday.
Milan players left the field after home fans directed
racist jeers at black players Kevin Prince Boateng, 'Baye Niang,
Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari during Thursday's match at
Busto Arsizio, north of Milan.
"I guarantee that Milan will leave the field in all matches
in which episodes like this take place, including international
ones," said former Italian premier Berlusconi.
The 76-year-old media magnate added that he had called to
congratulate Boateng, who led the walk-off, "for his reaction to
a deplorable episode of racism".
A 20-year-old man was cited to prosecutors on Friday for
allegedly taking part in the racist chants.
The man, who is unemployed and has no criminal record, is
being probed for allegedly breaking a special Italian law
against inciting racial hatred.
He is said to have admitted to being part of a group of
fans who directed abuse at the players.
Judicial sources said he is the only member of the group of
Pro Patria fans involved to have been put under investigation so
Boateng said he was grateful for the solidarity he
The Ghanaian midfielder picked up the ball and kicked it
towards the supporters who were jeering and then took off his
shirt and walked off the pitch.
Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini then led the rest of the
team off and the game was abandoned.
The club, the Italian Soccer Federation and the Italian
professional footballers' association all backed the players for
standing up to racism, in addition to condemning the Pro Patria
fans' behaviour.
Boateng also received solidarity via Twitter from fans and
former and current soccer stars such as Marco Materazzi, Patrick
Vieira and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
"Thank u all for the support and understanding...means a
lot!!!" Boateng said on his Twitter account on Friday.
Italian football has been battling racism in the stands for
a number of years after several shameful high-profile incidents.
FIGC prosecutors are looking into the Pro Patria case.
Busto Arsizio Mayor Gigi Farioli on Friday apologised to
Boateng and said he was misquoted after complaining about the
midfielder hitting the ball into the stands rather than
criticising the fans' racism.
He added that Boateng would be a "sort of honorary citizen
of Busto Arsizio" from now on, although he still insisted the
player should not have kicked the ball into the crowd.
Pro Patria Chairman Pietro Vavassori said black people
would be invited to attend the team's next home game in the VIP
section, in a gesture to show the club is not racist.
The head of the Italian Referees' Association (AIA),
meanwhile, defended match officials after they came under fire
for not stopping the match earlier.
AIA chief Marcello Nicchi said referees cannot abandon a
game under current regulations as this power lies with interior
ministry officials.

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