FIFA president Sepp Blatter says soccer players facing abuse shouldn't walk off the field
LONDON (AP) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter has advised players encountering racial abuse during matches against walking off the pitch like AC Milan did last week.
Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his Milan teammates off Thursday during a friendly against lower division club Pro Patria following racist chanting by fans.
The match was abandoned, but Blatter does not believe walking off is the best way to combat racism.
"Walk off? No. I don't think that is the solution," Blatter was quoted as saying on the website of Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper on Sunday.
"I don't think you can run away, because eventually you can run away if you lose a match," he added. "This issue is a very touchy subject, but I repeat there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium."
Blatter said FIFA is yet to receive a report into Thursday's incident from the Italian football federation, which has opened its own inquiry.
"The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions," Blatter said. "And the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar."
After repeated chants directed his way, Boateng picked up the ball and kicked it at a section of the crowd in the 26th minute of the match in Busto Arsizio, a town north of Milan. Boateng then took off his shirt and walked off the field with his Milan teammates.
Italian police have already identified several perpetrators of the abuse and prosecutors are considering whether to press charges of inciting racial hatred against Pro Patria fans.