Sepp Blatter: Kevin-Prince Boateng is 'running away' from racism
Fifa president claims AC Milan midfielder was wrong to walk off field in protest against fans
James Mariner is a journalist who has been boring The Independent sports desk with mindless statistics since June 2007. Helping with various, wide-ranging desk duties (I made the tea once), supervising workies and the endless researching of panels, James has an unnatural love of all things football, and in particular the Europa League, being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He cites Brian Sears and Ledley King among his heroes and can even find something interesting in Burnley v Hull City. On a good day.
Sunday 06 January 2013
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has claimed that Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was wrong to walk off the field following racist abuse from the stands last week.
The former Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth midfielder departed the field, followed by his team-mates, during a friendly match against Pro Patria after being subjected to racist taunting from sections of the home support. His actions had been widely praised by players and politicians, including Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, but Blatter does not believe the Ghana international's actions were necessarily correct.
"Walk off? No. I don't think that is the solution," the Swiss, speaking in Dubai on a tour of the Middle East, said. "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 also said Boateng's action was a reminder to spectators that they must behave at matches.
Boateng and his team-mates gave a further answer of their own on the pitch yesterday, sporting anti-racism shirts before their game with Siena. The Rossoneri won the match against the bottom-of-the-table side, Bojan Krkic and Giampaolo Pazzini helping Milan to a 2-1 victory at San Siro.
The issue of race awareness was prevalent elsewhere in Serie A over the weekend, with Lazio supporters abusing Cagliari's Victor Ibarbo during a match on Saturday. As parts of the stadium whistled in an effort to drown out the chants, the captains of the sides were warned that the match would be suspended if the abuse continued.
"We can't control the actions of individual fans," Lazio president Claudio Lotito maintained. "You risk criminalising thousands of fans for the actions of a few. The majority of fans behaved themselves."
There was a shock defeat for leaders Juventus, who suffered a 2-1 home defeat against 10-man Sampdoria, their third league reverse of the season.
In Spain, Real Madrid returned from the winter break with a hard-earned 4-3 win over Real Sociedad. The hosts had Adan sent off and trailed to an early penalty, before Karim Benzema, Sami Khedira and Cristiano Ronaldo (two) secured the points. Barcelona overcame Espanyol 4-0 at the Nou Camp, Pedro scoring twice as all the goals came in the opening half-hour.
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