Sunday January 6 2013
Stand by Boateng

Kevin-Prince Boateng earned praise from around the world for his stance against racist chanting, but Susy Campanale urges the real fans to stand up too.

The clip of Kevin-Prince Boateng kicking the ball into the stands and taking off his shirt to walk away has gone round the globe. Blanket praise arrived for the Ghanaian’s understandable reaction, but that was a midweek friendly against Pro Patria. Can the same be done when three points are at stake in a stadium with 50,000 people? Should football matches be held hostage by a dozen idiots? The fact remains there are no clear rules on this and they need to be formalised.

There were fears of racist abuse during Euro 2012 which, thankfully, did not need to be dealt with. UEFA President Michel Platini had, however, declared that a player would be penalised if he walked off in protest at racist chanting without permission from the referee. Praise Boateng for walking away, but in official matches the matter is still entirely down to the discretion of the officials in Italy, England and Europe. We already saw last month how England’s Under-21 players were penalised just as severely as the Serbians when reacting to racist abuse. The rules are not clear and there is the risk of a reaction to extreme provocation being punished more heavily than the original aggression.

The current Italian system was highlighted when Lazio faced Cagliari on Saturday. Victor Ibarbo was subjected to the sadly typical ‘monkey noises’ from a small section of the home fans. At least the proportion of Lazio ultras engaging in this barbaric behaviour has dropped in recent months, but there are still some who insist on giving everyone a bad name.

As per the procedure – which was also followed in the Pro Patria-Milan game before Boateng walked – the referee spoke to the captains and sent a message over the tannoy system warning that play would be halted if the chants continued. The next step, which thankfully was not needed at the Olimpico, would be to stop play for a few minutes. If they still did not stop, then the referee could in theory suspend the match indefinitely. I say ‘in theory,’ because again this is down to the discretion of each individual official. They are also able to stop play when flares are thrown from the stands, but when does that ever happen?

The officials and players can only do so much. The clubs haven’t much power either, as the stadiums are owned by local councils and so the very few stewards have no real ability to police the stands. If we are to truly stamp out racism in Italian stadiums, we need to get rid of the concept of omertà. This word is used by the Mafia to define those who know about wrong-doing, but do not say anything for fear of reprisals. There is undoubtedly omertàin the stands and that is what we must work on.

Let’s be honest, telling a racist that he is wrong and stupid is probably not going to get you anywhere. Telling those around them that the racists can be identified to stewards and thrown out to be banned from games – that can work. We must give the real fans more power and a feeling they are safe enough to take control of the stands, of their team’s reputation and of their own match-day experience by isolating these rotten apples. 

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Have your say...

I am confused as I responded to DOMINATOR's comments (?)
But if you chose the word "deplorable" to describe this garbage, aimed at one's race, mother or daughter, I am affraid we have very different tolerance levels.

Susy's point is more to stand against racisim in general then stand for Boateng. And yes, walking off the pitch is not the solution as we are dealing with a much wider social problem then ultras in the stadiums. But you have to start somewhere. Where would you draw the line?
on the 9th January, 2013 at 8:57am
The first step is to eradicate the culture of violence that is the Ultras in Italy. Ultras need to be recognized as criminal organizations. Now if racism continues, it is absolutely the right thing for players to walk off. Sure that may ruin the game for everyone, but guess what? Now the sensible people will direct their anger and frustration at the racist morons. So the next time those people want to have racist chanting, the sensible people would be encouraged to shut them up to enjoy the game
on the 8th January, 2013 at 11:17pm

I am missing no point. Within this blog there is support for a guy to walk off the pitch when deplorable comments are made to him. Having people make monkey chants is bad, but so is being abused about your dead mother. I agree this is disgusting but my point is that where do you draw the line as to when somebody can walk off the pitch.
on the 8th January, 2013 at 8:41pm
If there is money there is a way.
on the 8th January, 2013 at 9:45am
Dominator you are missing Susy's point.
It is not about who gets paid how much to endure what. It is about racism, one of the most despicable human behaviors.

The British showed us how to have safe stadiums that don't have fences between the fans and the pitch. Following their example, I'm sure there are solutions to take it up a notch and accelerate the extinction of this type of human garbage - and not just from the stadiums but from all of our lives.

If there's a will there's a way.
on the 8th January, 2013 at 2:28am
ifsomeone paid me £100,000 a week to take the occassional racist chanting for 90 minutes, i would deffo take that bargain. Initially i sided with boateng, but now i have seen sense. so next time somebody starts chanting again about Frank Lampard's mother dying, will he also be walking off the pitch? what about people chanting about Gerrard's daughter? Floodgates! they get paid to take the abuse. Football is rivalry and opposition fans will wind u up
on the 7th January, 2013 at 1:39pm
Good for you Prince. I support you totally and regret

the taunts you have had to endure. Just banning these

racist scum from matches isn't enough - they ought to

receive prison time.

From Ireland
on the 7th January, 2013 at 11:32am
I agree with Blater-Platini. if you allow 1 player to walk off for racial abuse you will eventualy have players walking off because they didnt get the free kick they were claiming or the goal they scored disallowed. I am against racial abuse, HOWEVER players need to grow up. They get paid enough to take all the abuse thrown at them. Paying fans have the right to say what they like at a game. Would you rather football turn into Tennis where we are told to keep quiet? Carefull what you wish for.
on the 7th January, 2013 at 10:35am
Platini is completely WRONG.

Players have a right to their dignity and I am certain Platini has not faced a fraction of the amount of racist abuse as high profile black players.

I suspect his reasons for taking that stand is simply because it would not be good for the business of football.

"Ultras" should be removed from the stadium. So you lose their repeat business.. is the money worth it? Before hastily decide that it is, consider the Millions in hidden costs that stem from racism.
on the 7th January, 2013 at 7:56am
i condemn platini and blatter and stand next to KPB.
i am not surprised by the remarks of blatter, but i am very much surprised from platini, as he used to be a player and knows how such thing hurts! blatter is a business minded person he is not after the beautiful game and his record proves it; the consipiracy against Italia & spain in favor of s.korea in WC 2002, and giving world cup to a small nation (qatar)who has not even qualified to a WC tournament before! all for the money simple as that
on the 7th January, 2013 at 5:32am
What else would a player do? I wouldn't play in a stadium when people are hurling racist insults at me never that. Unfortunately Platini will never experience this so his opinion is likely to stay the same
on the 7th January, 2013 at 3:49am
platini and blatter condemn KPB because they know that racism will continue and now KPB has set a precedent and now the floodgates will open. that will lead to matchs being cancelled and anarchy in terms of fixture lists. It is then blatter and platini who will have to find the solution which they simply do not have. That is why they are now scared and trying to urge minorities to tolerate the abuse. i hope players do walk off, i would, id kick the ball in the persons face 1st
on the 6th January, 2013 at 7:04pm
the reason for platini to said so it is because he is white, he doesn't know whatit takes to be a black and be called racism.
on the 6th January, 2013 at 5:12pm
on the 6th January, 2013 at 3:59pm
Racism is like a pet it's for life fortunately it's just a small minority
on the 6th January, 2013 at 3:57pm
What is wrong is wrong, I personally do not care what Platini says (no disrespect intended), it's easy to say these things when you are hardly the ones affected. If you have ever been subjected to this sort of treatment then you may understand why a player can just walk off. If the majority were being racially abused rather than the minorities maybe then the issue would have been dealt with & it's so funny how people still debate this things. it shows no one is ready to stamp it out
on the 6th January, 2013 at 3:45pm
it is not nice at all!
it is disgusting!
i am afraid things like that will be uncontrolable in future!
i see football is losing big time here!
Kevin-Prince Boateng is human and we all have emotions!
humans have dignity that is not to be hurt.
i wonder how long will we see of this!
on the 6th January, 2013 at 3:34pm
Stopping games is PART of the answer. Once the good-natured people have paid good money to watch a match only to see it abandoned, they will turn on the idiots. If you watch the end of that Pro Patria clip, it is exactly what happened. I must add that Samuel Eto'o walked off during a La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Zaragoza in 2005, but was stopped and told to carry on playing. Disgusting. If a player has the guts, then I see no reason why it cannot happen in an official match.
on the 6th January, 2013 at 2:05pm
I really can't see the point of this. If you'd ever been to a game in Italy you'd know the stands are ruled in sections by the ultras. The vast majority of racism comes from these ultra areas and nobody can do anything about it. If the authorities wanted to clamp down then they would have to ban the ultras coming into stadiums altogether. And given that is about as likely to happen as Torres hitting 30 goals a season then sadly it will continue. Stopping games won't be enough!
on the 6th January, 2013 at 1:21pm

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