Today’s events at Pro Patria and Kevin-Prince Boateng’s and Italian football’s response were sickening and inspiring in equal measure.
The despicable behaviour of parts of the crowd today are sadly not isolated to Pro Patria or to Italy. Yes, these vermin are a small minority but they exist in too many places across Europe and have time and again stained the name of a sport that so many of us love.
No more about these low-lives; our breath is wasted on them. Let’s talk about the response.
Kevin-Prince Boateng’s (KPB) actions were brave and absolutely right. He is rightly being applauded on social media and across the world. But for too long the football powers that be (including Uefa president Michel Platini- who in June said that any players who walked off the pitch at Euro 2012 because of racist abuse would be booked- as the BBC reminded us today) have talked tough and acted weak.
KPB and AC Milan voting with their feet today brought this disgrace on the world’s most popular sport to the attention of fans in living rooms across the world. The response of Italy’s governing body deserves praise too. The strength of FIGC president Giancarlo Abete words, describing the incident as “unspeakable and intolerable” and going on to say “We must react with force and without silence to isolate the few criminals that transformed a friendly match into an uproar that offends all of Italian football.” is spot on.
We now need good deeds to match these good words. Enough of the weak response we have seen to date (including to the shame brought on the game when England were in Slovakia over ten years ago). It is time to start throwing clubs and nations out of competitions and docking them points. Time to hit them where it hurts. Fines, being made to play games behind closed doors and suspended sentences have not worked. It is time for real action. Kicking racism out of football means kicking out the clubs and nations who harbour the racists. At least until they kick the racists out of the game.