Football: Fifa president Sepp Blatter said today that AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng was wrong to walk off the pitch after he was targeted with racist abuse by fans in a friendly last week.
Boateng was supported by his team-mates and club for the gesture, but Blatter added that clubs would risk forfeiting matches if another player were to follow the former Portsmouth player’s example.
Speaking at a conference in the Middle East, Blatter said: “Walk off? No. I don’t think that is the solution. But the Italian federation has yet to provide Fifa with a report detailing what exactly has happened.
“I don’t think you can run away, because then the team should have to forfeit the match. This issue is a very touchy subject, but I repeat there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium, we have to go against that. “The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions (against racism) — and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar.”
He added: “We have to have no tolerance to racism, absolutely no tolerance. This action is an example that the spectators must behave well because, as I understand it, the player ran away and the others went with him. (The spectators) cannot go on abusing afterwards.”
Boateng criticised Fifa in an interview last week, saying that the body gives players little support when they are abused from the stands.
He said: “So many people in Fifa can do something and they should wake up and do it. They should not tolerate it. They should ban people forever from the stadiums. That’s the first thing you can do.”
Chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association Clarke Carlisle said today that he will back any player who walks off the pitch in the face of racist abuse.
“I will always back a player who walks off because he doesn’t feel the situation is being dealt with by the referees, by warnings over the Tannoy or by offenders being thrown out,” said Carlisle.
He added: “Boateng’s action is something I applaud and I think it’s a fantastic statement that both teams went off.
“It’s even better that it happened in a country where we’ve questioned how seriously people want to tackle the backward-thinking behaviour that is racism.”