Kevin-Prince Boateng, together with his AC Milan teammates, walked off the pitch during a friendly game on Thursday against Pro Patria due to persistent racist abuse directed towards him and the other black players in the AC Milan team.
The cloud of racism has hovered and lingered in the game of football for a very long time. Despite the many advances made in the game over the years, and the increased availability of football via satellite television racism refuses to go away.
Part of the problem is that the various football governing bodies (that’s you Sepp Blatter) do not do enough to eliminate the problem. It’s all well and good having “no to racism” banners and t-shirts out before a game but that is not enough to prevent these ignorant fans from spewing forth with vitriol time after time. There is technology available via CCTV and football marshals to assist in identifying perpetrators and ensuring that they are not allowed back into stadiums. The fines issued by UEFA or FIFA or other ruling bodies should no longer be these ridiculous pittances but should be more punitive.
James Horncastle posted this eloquent article on ESPN Soccernet about the fact that there have been precedents for players walking off the pitch having been subjected to racist abuse during games. It would be great if referees allowed games to be abandoned where racist abuse is seen or heard. One of the key points to note, however, is that these walk offs have never happened during a competitive match – where there is money involved, you can be guaranteed that FIFA and their cohorts will continue to turn a blind eye to racism.