The abuse received by Kevin-Prince Boateng and other black Milan players in the recent friendly against Pro Patria has given the football authorities food for thought in their fight against racism.
If for one minute FIFA, UEFA and the FA thought that racism was under control then issues both on and off the field over the last year have highlighted that there is still much to do.
In Britain, the high-profile court case of John Terry, the Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra incident, and the treatment of England's Under 21 players on their recent away game in Serbia have shown that despite the efforts of many, the issue of racism still bubbles away under the surface. Recent incidents have shown that we only need to scratch the surface to reveal it.
The most disturbing aspect of all the incidents has to be the conflict amongst fellow professionals. If the authorities are trying to educate supporters around the world then it has to be the players who portray this message. The authorities need these role models to educate our children because invariably youngsters of today hang on their every word and mimic their on-field actions.
Unfortunately, incidents of racial abuse have become all too familiar and regular in Spain, Italy and Eastern Europe in recent times. This is a huge problem. The punishments handed out by the authorities hardly serve as a deterrent to those involved, acting nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
The actions of Kevin-Prince Boateng, in my opinion, were very brave. He felt that he had to make that stand and I have to applaud that but clearly others are not in agreement. FIFA President Sepp Blatter believes that walking off the field of play is effectively running away from the issue, which he claims is not the answer, as does Boateng's team mate Clarence Seedorf. However, the fact that Boateng and the rest of his teammates did walk off the pitch highlighted the issue to the world media and ensured front page news.
I am not sure that the respective leaders of our global sport are decisive enough in knowing how to deal with the issue. Blatter has appeared out of touch on a number of points over the last few years, whilst UEFA President Michel Platini even warned that players who walked off the pitch because of racial abuse would be booked.
As a supporter it is clear to see that over the years in Britain there have been huge strides made in the fight against racism. British football is clearly at the forefront of this fight but incidents recently have highlighted the need for renewed efforts, energy and focus. The next step is to totally eliminate this issue from what is commonly referred to as 'the beautiful game'. Unfortunately, the topic of racism will continue to rumble on, but it's paramount that everyone works together to eradicate the problem from the game altogether.
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