We simple must ban racists from our game and fight racism full on.
In the wake of the ‘walk off’ by Kevin-Prince Boateng and his Milan teammates, racism rears its ugly head once again. Boateng and other Milan players were subject to racial abuse from the stands, which led to the Ghanaian international kicking a football into the stands and shortly afterwards, walking off the pitch.
This was a statement; to racists, FIFA/UEFA and those who previously didn’t have the courage to walk off. Boateng has set a precedent in world football that now we’re a strong enough to rise above the hate and walk away from racists, who don’t deserve to continue watching football.
Recently, Boateng spoke to CNN’s Pedro Pinto on the subject of racism and his experience. Boateng began by saying, “It started after 5 minutes when we started the game. I heard a group in the corner doing the noises of monkeys.”
He continued, “At first I didn’t really realise it – I didn’t want to realise it – but then it happened the second time to Muntari. I spoke to the referee and I said to the referee “look, if it happens again, I won’t play anymore.” He said “no, don’t worry”, but I said “no, I do worry.” “The third time I was dribbling the player and I heard their voices again. That’s where I stopped the game and I shot the ball to them.”
Boateng would go on to discuss his emotions at the time, “It’s so many emotions. I was angry, I was sad, I was disappointed. This all came together and I said ‘I’m not going to play anymore’. I was surprised that we live in the time we live in now, in 2013, and still these things come up.”
He went on to say, “It’s not the first time in my life I have to hear things like this or see things like this. Now, I’m 25 years old and I don’t want to see this, sorry to say this, bullsh*t anymore. For myself, nobody could convince me to play anymore. I said straight “I’m not going to go on this pitch again”. They can’t convince me to play in a crowd or a place like this.”
Strong words from Boateng, he continued on and said; “I don’t care if it’s a friendly game, a Champions League game, a Serie A game – I will walk off the pitch again.”
Like in any workplace, we expect certain things and football shouldn’t be any different. Therefore, Boateng’s claims that he would do it again, are more than reasonable. Even if you discount the feelings of Boateng and other footballers, the racist acts still affect the people around it. Families wouldn’t feel safe in such an environment. The examples in Italy today; where football attendances are at an all-time low. Therefore, it’s in the interest of FIFA and UEFA to ban racists from our game.
In my own backyard, we’ve dealt with racism in an effective and proactive way. The Australian Football Federation and the clubs involved worked hard to find the culprit and banned him from A-league games for two years. It’s possible to act swiftly and effectively, but we are continually growing use to the incompetence of our football governing bodies. This must be rectified, before football collectively as a sport suffers.