Prosecutor preparing criminal inquiry after AC Milan friendly abandoned due to racism - InfoNews

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Prosecutor preparing criminal inquiry after AC Milan friendly abandoned due to racism

In this picture made available Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, AC Milan Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari leaves the changing rooms as he walks past Pro Patria players in Busto Arsizio, near Milan, Italy, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. A friendly match between AC Milan and lower division club Pro Patria was abandoned Thursday after racist chants directed at Milan's black players, the latest incident of racial abuse that continues to blight the sport. After repeated chants directed his way, Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng picked up the ball and kicked it at a section of the crowd in the 26th minute of the first half. Boateng then took off his shirt and walked off the pitch with his Milan teammates. Urby Emanuelson, Sulley Muntari and M'Baye Niang were also targeted by the chants. (AP Photo/Emilio Andreoli)
January 04, 2013 - 7:11 AM

MILAN - A public prosecutor is set to open a criminal inquiry after a friendly match between AC Milan and lower division club Pro Patria was abandoned following racist chanting by fans.

The prosecutor in the northern town of Busto Arsizio is likely to pursue charges of inciting racial hatred against Pro Patria fans who abused Milan's black players, local media reported.

One 20-year-old fan was cited by police after acknowledging involvement in the chants. Police are examining video footage to identify about 10 others suspected of involvement.

After repeated chants directed his way during Thursday's game, Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng kicked the ball in anger at a section of the crowd, took off his shirt and walked off the pitch with the rest of the Milan team.

Other Milan players Urby Emanuelson, Sulley Muntari and M'Baye Niang were also targeted by the chants.

The Italian football federation announced its own inquiry Thursday.

"Thank u all for the support and understanding...means a lot!!!" Boateng tweeted Friday.

Former France international Lilian Thuram, who played in Italy with Parma and Juventus, noted that it was "the first time a big club took responsibility to make such a decisive step" by walking off.

"Indifference prevails in the majority of cases," Thuram told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "Teammates tend to lower their eyes and look elsewhere, underestimating the suffering of the players of colour who are targeted.

"That's why I applaud the sensibility of a great player like (Milan captain) Massimo Ambrosini," Thuram added. "He took responsibility which gives a huge amount of help to the fight against racism."

Patrick Vieira, another former France international who played in Italy, was also supportive.

"It was brave of Kevin Prince Boateng to do what he did today, and it was the right thing," Vieira tweeted. "We need to stand up and stand together. Well done."

Meanwhile, Pro Patria president Pietro Vavassori announced that he would open the club's stadium to "all people of colour" at its next match, inviting them to sit in the tribune of honour.

"Our hope is that the other Lega Pro (third and fourth division) presidents also support this initiative," Vavassori said. "The people who made those chants are not regular fans, but rather people who came to the stadium with the intention of ruining a festive match."

Vavassori added that Boateng's reaction was "understandable."

The international players' union, FIFPro, also voiced its support for Milan's stance.

"FIFPro is not encouraging other players to directly walk of the field when they are racially abused," said Tony Higgins, the association's spokesman on anti-racism. "But the world of football has to realize that this abusive behaviour must stop. Racism has no place in society or football. The players of Milan sent a clear message: if racism does not stop, then football will."

News from © The Associated Press, 2013
The Associated Press

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