'Racism is strengthened by indifference and inaction': AC Milan player Kevin Prince-Boateng gives stunning speech to the UN

The midfielder was subjected to abuse earlier this season

AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng gave a speech at the United Nations today using his own experience of racist abuse to drive home the importance of taking action against racism in sport.  He was invited as part of the annual International Day for Eliminating Racism conference in Geneva.

Speaking at an discussion entitled ‘Racism and Sport’ convened by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights , he started by giving details of the match against fourth-division side Pro Patria. After playing a video of the incident, he spoke of feeling "profoundly angry and offended" by the abuse, noting his team’s decision to leave the pitch with him as the reason he was invited to speak.

Boateng described racism as "one of the most dangerous diseases of our time", with "a lot in common" with the malaria he saw during his time in Ghana. He asserted that racism, like malaria, "is strengthened by indifference and inaction" and that its influence in football is of special importance, given the number of young people exposed to it. 

“There is no vaccine to fight this and no antibiotics to take. It’s a dangerous and infectious virus which is strengthened by indifference and inaction. When I played for Ghana, I learned how to fight malaria. Simple vaccines are not enough. You also have to dry out infected areas where the carriers proliferate. I think that racism and malaria have a lot in common.”

“Football stadiums, like other places, are full of young people. If we don’t fight the stagnation, many of those who are healthy today, could become infected with one of the most dangerous diseases of our time.”

Boateng also highlighted the unique impact that sport can have on fighting racism, attributing past success to sportsmen like Mohammed Ali.

“Many sportsmen like myself and my teammates, artists and musicians all have unique chances and responsibilities to make themselves heard. We have the possibility to reach the parts that political speeches will never reach. History shows us how important the contributions of famous athletes can be. I can say that the fact that the President of America shares my skin colour, has something to do not only with Martin Luther King, but also Mohammed Ali.”

Throughout his speech, the Milan star adopted a firm approach, referring regularly to those in his position having a "duty to rise and act", and asserting that "there are no tolerable quantities of racism." He described being influenced in this by Nelson Mandela, whom he met at the World Cup in 2010, describing him as "an incredible man". He ended his speech reiterating this point.

"It’s just as important to stand up to racism today as it was in the past. We have to find inspiration from those who have risked their lives for the cause. I’m convinced that it would be a fatal error to believe that we can fight racism by ignoring it and hoping that it’ll go away like a headache. This won’t happen. In any moment when our paths cross with racism we have the duty to rise and to act. Thank you for listening.”

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week