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Italian soccer star Kevin-Prince Boateng halts game to protest racial abuse

01.04.13 at 8:57 am ET

Soccer star Kevin-Prince Boateng led his AC Milan teammates in storming off the field midway through the first half after the team’s black players were the subject of racial abuse by Pro Patria fans during an exhibition match Thursday in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

The game was suspended after Boateng, a Ghanaian midfielder, picked up the ball and booted it toward the offending fans, took off his jersey, and led his teammates off the field, followed by the Pro Patria players.

“We are disappointed and saddened by what has happened,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Milan play for the right to respect all players. We need to stop these uncivilized 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.”

Tweeted Boateng: Shame that these things still happen’€¦ #StopRacismforever.

Italian Football Association president Giancarlo Abete indicated there will be an investigation into the incident, the latest in a string of racial issues that have plagued European soccer over the past few years.

“No sanction or measure can erase the disdain for an unspeakable and intolerable episode,” he said in a statement on the Italian FA website. “We must react with force and without silence to isolate the few criminals that transformed a friendly march into an uproar that offends all of Italian football.”

Added Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini: “I am sorry for all those who were at the stadium, but a strong message had to be sent. AC Milan will make an effort to go back to Busto Arsizio, especially for the children and for those who have nothing to do with racism, but a message had to be sent against such uncivilized people.”

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