GIANNI MERLO / AIPS in MILAN: On January 3 Milan walked off the pitch during a friendly match against Pro Patria in Busto Arsizio in solidarity with Kevin Prince Boateng, who had been targeted by racist chanting.

On Monday night, in Reggio Emilia, during the TIM Trophy tournament – between Milan, Juventus and promoted Sassuolo – Rossoneri midfielder Kevin Constant kicked the ball toward the stands and quit the pitch as a protest against more racist chanting.

The time was almost midnight and Milan were playing Sassuolo in the third 45-minute match; 32 minutes had been played.

Constant, French origin from Guinea Conakry, walked to the touchline for a throw-in but suddenly turned toward the stand where a mob had targeted him and threw the ball toward them. Then he marched off to the dressing rooms.

Referee Andrea Gervasoni spoke to Constant as he left the pitch and requested a substitute.

Sassuolo, who won the pre-season tournament, reacted immediately with a statement of regret and apology from president Giorgio Squinzi who is also president of Confindustria (Italian Industrial Association).

The club can – and should – expect disciplinary action from the Italian federation.

FIFA resolution

FIFA’s Congress in Mauritius on May 31 adopted a resolution, prepared by the Task Force against Racism, that should lead to tougher sanctions in cases of racism, including points deductions and even relegation for repeat offenders.

The Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of the resolution, with 204 votes for and one against.

A first offence or minor offence should be punished by a warning, a fine and/or an order to play games behind closed doors.

A repeat offence or serious offence should prompt a deduction of points, exclusion from a competition or relegation.

Any guilty individual (player, official, referee etc) should be suspended for at least five matches, including a stadium ban.

A special anti-discrimination officer shall be in place in the stadium to support anti-racism and anti-discrimination efforts.

UEFA stance

A similar resolution was approved at European federation UEFA’s congress in London earlier in May, thus:

UEFA and its member associations hereby resolve to re-double their efforts to eradicate racism from football. Stricter sanctions must be imposed for any form of racist behaviour affecting the game.

Referees should stop, suspend or even abandon a match if racist incidents occur. Following UEFA’s three-step guidelines, a match will first be stopped and a public warning given. Second, the match will be suspended for a period of time. Third, and after coordination with security officers, the match will be abandoned if racist behaviour has not ceased. In such a case the responsible team forfeits the tie.

Any player or team official found guilty of racist conduct must be suspended for at least ten matches (or a corresponding period of time for club representatives).

If supporters of a club or national team engage in racist behaviour this must be sanctioned (for a first offence) with a partial stadium closure concerning the section where the racist incident occurred. For a second offence, this must be sanctioned with a full stadium closure, as well as a financial penalty. In addition, supporters found guilty of racist behaviour should be banned from attending matches in future by the state authorities.

Clubs and national associations are required to run awareness programmes to tackle racism. Furthermore, disciplinary sanctions for any racist behaviour should be accompanied by such awareness programmes, which anti-racism organisations could helpfully assist with.