MILAN: Barbara Berlusconi has said that players should be encouraged to take the law into their hands and walk off in protest at racist chanting during competitive matches writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The daughter of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, an increasingly influential director of the former European champions, spoke out after the incident in Thuesday’s friendly at Busto Arsizio against Pro Patria; Milan abandoned the match after 26 minutes following the abuse of their black players including, notably, Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Later it emerged that the Ghana midfielder’s girlfriend, Melissa Satta, watching in the stands at the Stadio Carlo Speroni, had also been a target for abuse.
Several players had talked of walking out of matches at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine last June if racist chanting erupted but no major incidents transpired to provoke such action.
However the time has long appeared overdue before players did take the law into their own hands over an issue whose significance is dawning only very slowly on many senior directors of the international game.
Barbara Berlusconi, referring to the Pro Patria chanting, said: “There should be zero tolerance for incidents like this. The games should be suspended immediately, also in the championship.”
Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini was the first to face the media after the game.
He said: “We were concerned right from the kickoff and the situation needed to be managed differently. We have given a strong signal, even if we are sorry that this is the fault of a few and we have affected many. We are committed to return here as soon as possible but we could not continue the game in such a climate.”
‘The right choice’
Coach Massimiliano Allegri said he had been “disappointed and saddened” by events.
His players had complained to the Bologna referee Benassi but no action had been taken – and this after Pro Patria had been fined earlier in the season for racist chanting by fans during a fourth division game.
Allegri added: “I believe it was the right choice not to return to the field for respect toward our players and all other players of colour of. We must stop this appalling behaviour.
“Italy must become more civil – even a little more intelligent.
“We are sorry for the families and the children who had come to enjoy the beautiful day of sport and the sun. We hope we have given a signal that has a following if such acts should be repeated in any league. We apologise but we hope that these events do not happen anymore”.
The only significant note of dissent was struck by Busto Arsizio’s mayor, Gigi Farioli. who thought Boateng’s reaction “excessive . . . kicking the ball at 200kpm at a fan.”
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