WORLD football’s most powerful man Sepp Blatter has urged players not to follow the example of AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, accusing the Ghanaian of “running away” and arguing that “this is not the solution”.
Boateng led his team-mates off the pitch on Thursday after suffering racist abuse from fans at fourth-tier Pro Patria, prompting the match to be abandoned – a move that was supported by his club.
Fifa president Blatter yesterday responded by reiterating that “there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium” from his governing body, but stressed that federations, rather than players, should lead the way.
“Walk off? No. I don’t think that is the solution,” he said. “The Italian federation have yet to provide Fifa with the report detailing what exactly has happened. I don’t think you can run away, because eventually you can run away if you lose a 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, and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar.”
Blatter’s comments follow criticism of European football’s governing body Uefa, after they last month fined Serbian football chiefs just £65,000 for their fans’ racist abuse of England U21 players. The sum was £15,000 less than Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner was fined for revealing branded underwear during last summer’s European Championships.
“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,” he added. “They cannot go on abusing afterwards.”
Boateng had been widely praised for his action, with manager Massimiliano Allegri and club president Silvio Berlusconi both stating that the players would be encouraged to act in the same way should further racist incidents occur.
The former Tottenham midfielder has vowed to do the same in a major game, while Milan players wore T-shirts with anti-racism messages on them before Sunday’s match against Siena at the San Siro.