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Social Issues
Italian Soccer Star Walks Off The Field In Protest Against Racist Chants From Fans
January 3, 2013
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One thing about sports - they can provide some truly incredible moments.

Usually, it's an amazing play or an remarkable performance. But then, there are moments that transcend the game and make a powerful statement to society.

The video at the top of the page is one of them.

It happened a recent "friendly" soccer match in Italy involving the legendary Italian club A.C. Milan and Pro Patria.

During the game, a group of fans were repeatedly yelling racist chants and taunts at A.C. Milan's non-white players.

Well, one of those players - star midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng - decided he'd had enough.

He picked up the ball in the middle of play and kicked it into the stands, where the racist fans were sitting. Then, he took off his jersey and walked off the field.

As he did, many of the Pro Patria fans cheered him.

The referees called off the game afte just 25 minutes and the players on both teams walked off with Boateng to show their support.

The announcers called it "Incredible," as it is the first time an entire team has left the field and stopped a game.

Italian-soccer-star-walks-off-the-field-in-protest-against-racist-chants-from-fans-feature1.jpg On his Twitter page, Boateng simply said "it's a shame these things still happen £StopRacismforever".

Some fans tweeted that Boateng - who's played in Italy for two years - only did it because it wasn't an official league game.

But the coach of A.C. Milan Massimino Allegri said his team would walk out again in any game if one of its players was being racially taunted.

"We are disappointed and saddened by what has happened. Milan play for the right to respect all players. We need to stop these uncivilised gestures," he said.

"We are sorry for all the other fans who came here for a beautiful day of sport. We promise to return, and we are sorry for the club and players of Pro Patria, but we could not make any other decision."

Allegri also called on other teams to do the same thing, if their players were facing racist insults from fans.

A.C. Milan's organizing director Umberto Gandini tweeted his support saying "Very proud of the Milan players who decided to walk off the pitch today for racist abuse from few idiots! No racism, no stupidity!"

Unfortunately, this kind of racism has become increasingly common at European soccer games.

Another star player from Italy Mario Balotelli has had to put up with racist chants, songs calling for his death and people throwing bananas at him.

Italian-soccer-star-walks-off-the-field-in-protest-against-racist-chants-from-fans-feature2.jpg Balotelli, 22, was born in Sicily but his biological parents are from Ghana. He currently plays for Manchester City in the English Premier League and has represented Italy internationally.

Last summer, he suggested he would walk off the field at Euro 2012 if he had to put up with it anymore.

Last spring, his words were even stronger. "I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them," Balotelli said.

Obviously, not all of Italy's fans are racist but it does have a reputation for abusive crowds, so what Balotelli and Boateng have done is both brave and inspiring.

Critics also point fingers at Europe's soccer-governing body - UEFA - for not doing enough to stop racism in the game.

In fact, under UEFA rules, players aren't allowed to take a stand against it on the field. All they can do is tell the referee and keep playing.

If they don't, they can be fined or suspended.

Last summer, UEFA president Michel Platini said "We will certainly support the referee if he decided to stop the game. But it's not a player, Mr Balotelli, who's in charge of refereeing. It's the referee who takes these decisions. So, the referee has been given advice and he can stop the game if there are problems."

UEFA has partnered with FARE - Football Against Racism In Europe - on a series of public relations campaigns speaking out against racism.

The campaigns include everything from conferences and pamphlets to T-shirts and PSA's. Take a look.

You can see more here at UEFA's website.

And check out this charity in the UK called 'Show Racism The Red Card.'

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