Italian Lega Pro Second Division club Pro Patria are now the most famous Italian lower league club on the planet but for all the wrong reasons.
During a mid-season glamour friendly with AC Milan, some neanderthals in the crowd made them famous with a series of racist chants aimed at Milan’s players, especially Kevin Prince-Boateng, M’Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari.
Boateng, the former Spurs and Portsmouth player, and now a Ghana international took matters into his own hands 25 minutes in, picking up the ball and booting it into the stand.
He walked off followed by both sets of players.
The stadium announcer is said to have made repeated please to the crowd but to no avail.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has announced an immediate inquiry and FIGC president Giancarlo Abete announced via their website:
“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.” (Translation from BBC)
There had been appeals for the abuse to stop from the public address announcer.
Not all of Pro Patria fans appreciated the shame some had brought to the Lombardy club. According to the BBC report:
On his way from the pitch, Boateng applauded sections of the crowd, who then reacted angrily towards the corner of the ground from which the chants came.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters that although they felt a stance had to be made, they were not averse to returning to the Stadio Carlo Speroni:
“We are disappointed and saddened by what has happened. Milan play for the right to respect all players. We need to stop these uncivilised gestures. We are sorry for all the other fans who came here for a beautiful day of sport. We promise to return, and we are sorry for the club and players of Pro Patria, but we could not make any other decision. I hope it can be an important signal.”
The gesture by the Milan players puts them on a quasi collision course with a previous edict from UEFA President Michel Platini who said that any players who walked off the pitch at Euro 2012 because of racist abuse would be booked.
Pro Patria incidentally is Italian for ‘For the Fatherland.’
Milan resume their Serie A season on Sunday at home to Siena. Pro Patria head to Savona, presumably accompanied by more cameras than they could have ever expected.