Anti-racism campaigners have reacted angrily to Fifa president Sepp Blatter over his criticism of AC Milan footballer Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Boateng was widely applauded for his decision to leave the pitch during a friendly match at Pro Patria last week after being subjected to racist chanting from a section of the home fans.
However Blatter claimed the player was wrong to “run away,” an assertion that was given short shrift by Piara Powar, the executive director of anti-racist campaign group Football Against Racism in Europe (Fare).
Powar told The Guatdian: “We disagree entirely with the idea that Kevin-Prince Boateng ran away from the Milan match in which he was subjected to racial abuse. It’s a nonsensical suggestion.
“What does Sepp Blatter know about what it is to be abused or excluded because you are an ethnic minority, and what might be the right or wrong way to respond?
“The point is that the hard-won processes put in place to deal with issues of discriminatory abuse, that apply from referees all the way up to international disciplinary commissions, are not being implemented.
“There seem to be so many statements being made off the cuff by football administrators on important issues of policy that are ill-thought out. The message going out is one of indifference by governing bodies at all levels.”
AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi echoed Powar’s sentiments, saying of Blatter’s remarks: “I am of the opposite view. In fact, I thanked and congratulated my players for their decision to leave the field during the friendly in Busto Arsizio.
“This is an uncivilised problem that needs to be stopped, people should not allow these things to happen.
“Teams out on the pitch should set an example of civility and the educational role of football should not be underestimated.
“It’s not only about the behaviour of players in the game, but of the public, and everyone needs to avoid giving Italy a negative image.”