Friday May 17 2013
Refs: 'Walk off, you're sent off'

Mario Balotelli threatened to walk off the field if he hears racist abuse, but the Referees’ Association warned he “will be sent off.”

Milan striker Balotelli made the threat during an interview with CNN this week after the Milan-Roma game had to be halted by the official due to persistent racist chanting from the Giallorossi supporters.

However, there is a protocol in place that rules referees must stop play, wait for a message to be read out on the tannoy system and then if it persists the official can abandon the game.

“Everyone is free to express their opinions as they wish,” Referees Association (AIA) President Marcello Nicchi said today. “But there are rules.

“Those who leave the field of play to protest without telling the referee will be sent off by the referee.

“But I hope it does not come to that. It would be a defeat for the system and to everyone involved.

“You have to give less importance to the phenomenon of racism from the media’s point of view and start to be hard against the shameful act itself.”

This is the same official approach taken by UEFA and FIFA, as players cannot simply walk off the field during a competitive match without permission from the referee.

While Kevin-Prince Boateng faced no disciplinary action when he abandoned the Pro Patria-Milan match due to racist abuse, that was a midweek friendly.

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