FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, believes AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng made the wrong decision to walk off the pitch when subjected to racist chanting during a friendly this week and has warned clubs that any repeat may risk the forfeiting of matches.
Boateng walked of the pitch with his teammates during a match at Pro Patria this week after being the target of racist abuse from some of the home fans. The former Tottenham and Portsmouth player insisted he would do the same thing again if necessary.
Blatter, who was speaking at a conference in the Middle East, said football must take a “zero tolerance” approach to racism although stated that clubs should still have to forfeit matches if their players walk off, whatever the reason.
“Walk off? No. I don’t think that is the solution,” he said in United Arab Emirates newspaper The National.
“But the Italian federation has yet to provide FIFA with a report detailing what exactly has happened.
“I don’t think you can run away, because then the team should have to forfeit the match. This issue is a very touchy subject, but I repeat there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium.
“The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions (against racism) – and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar.”
He added: “We have to have no tolerance to racism, absolutely no tolerance.
“This action is an example that the spectators must behave well because, as I understand it, the player ran away and the others went with him. (The spectators) cannot go on abusing afterwards.”
Following the incident, Boateng has expressed his frustration at a perceived lack of support from FIFA.
He told CNN: “So many people in FIFA can do something and they should wake up and do it. They should not tolerate it. They should ban people forever from the stadiums. That’s the first thing you can do.”
The Italian Football Federation, the governing body in charge of the friendly game, has announced it is conducting an investigation into the incident.