Criminal probe expected in Italian racism case

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 4, 2013 at 11:56 am •  Published: January 4, 2013

MILAN (AP) — 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, and five more have been identified. Police were examining video footage to identify the others involved.

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, while Milan president and former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said his club wouldn't hesitate to walk off the pitch again in similar circumstances.

"I can assure you that in any match, even international ones, where episodes like this occur, Milan will leave the pitch," Berlusconi said. "These uncivil episodes, these whistles and denigrating chants occur ever more frequently and they offend football and all of sport."

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 color who are targeted.

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