A friendly match between Milan and the fourth-tier club Pro Patria was abandoned on Thursday after players walked off in protest at racist chanting from fans.
The game, played in Busto Arsizio, was called off after 26 minutes when a section of Pro Patria supporters targeted Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, who reacted to the abuse by picking up the ball and kicking it at the crowd in the stand behind him.
The Ghanaian then tore off his shirt and walked off the field at the opposite end. On his way, he applauded other sections of the crowd, who then appeared to react angrily towards the corner of the ground from where the chants came.
It is 30 years since Paul Canoville became the first black footballer to play for Chelsea. When the team-sheet was announced, with his name as substitute, the National Front held a meeting in a local pub to discuss the outrage. As Canoville warmed up, Chelsea supporters screamed, “Sit down, you black cunt”, “You fucking wog”. Then they started to chant: “We don’t want the nigger, we don’t want the nigger, la la la la.”
The abuse continued unabated for the next two years. That was when Herman Ouseley, then running the Ethnic Minorities Unit at the Greater London Council, decided something had to be done. In 1984, Ouseley, now Lord Ouseley, went to see Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, who couldn’t see there was an issue. “I said, ‘We need to look at what we can do to tackle this problem properly,’” Ouseley says. “He said they didn’t have a problem, and that the security people will see me off the site. And some big goons in their anoraks saw me off the premises.”
Earlier this year, Collymore was involved in another high-profile race row. In January, Joshua Cryer, a law student at Newcastle university and the captain of the department’s football team, sent Collymore offensive tweets, including: “@StanCollymore has anyone ever referred to you as semi pro as in a semi pro coon #neitherwhitenorblack.” Collymore reported Cryer to the police and, in March, he was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. In the same month, 21-year-old student Liam Stacey was jailed for tweeting racist comments about Fabrice Muamba after the footballer had a cardiac arrest on the pitch.
Collymore believes this form of abuse is now more prevalent than anything experienced on the pitch or in the stands. Perhaps, he says, we became complacent about racism – been there, challenged it, beaten it. “We thought it was the Nick Griffins, the shaven-headed guy with a swastika who listened to Skrewdriver, who said stuff like this, but it’s not. They’re from every age and every background, and a lot think the eastern Europeans have come over and nicked their jobs, just like dad said the blacks and Asians did years ago. And in a recession, we know rightwing ideas and principles tend to come to the fore.”
It’s so much easier for people to hurl abuse, he says, when they think they can hide behind a cloak of anonymity. But Twitter “trolls” are discovering that they are more answerable than they imagined. Does he think jail is the right solution for offenders? “You know what I’d like to see more of? Community orders. I had a letter from Joshua Cryer a few days ago. Very apologetic. He said, ‘I realise how stupid it was and the pain it caused to you and your family.’ It could just be that, as part of his 200 hours, he’s been asked to send a remorseful letter, but it seemed very genuine. I may well contact him.”
One of the best articles Ive read on the subject …
In Italy on Friday, images of the black player embracing his white mother dominated websites and papers. One newspaper, Il Giornale, decided that no one could claim to be more Italian than Mario.
“A loudmouth and a mother’s boy, sweet but angry, a child in a hurry to grow and an adult still anchored to adolescence,” it stated. “Half bully and half tender, Mario Balotelli represents the prototype Italian.”
it’s waaaaay past time for goal-line technology. Thanks.
Someone who saw that England vs. Ukraine match
Well he certainly deserved it.