Milan, Jan 4 (IANS/RIA Novosti) World Cup winner Patrick Vieira has praised AC Milan’s players for walking off the pitch in protest after alleged racist abuse at a friendly in Italy.
The Milan team, reportedly led by midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng, walked off after 25 minutes against lower-league side Pro Patria, causing Thursday’s match to be called off.
“AC Milan are an example to all. It’s a strong and bold statement to make by the Club and players,” Vieira, who is black, said on Twitter Thursday.
“It was brave of Kevin Prince Boateng to do what he did today, and it was the right thing. We need to stand up and stand together. Well done.”
Football authorities, including England’s FA and Europe’s UEFA, have come in for criticism in recent months for an allegedly soft stance on racism, and Vieira, now in a management role at Manchester City, and Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand both called for tougher action.
“Now is the time for the football authorities to stand up and do something. We need to see real actions that will have a genuine influence,” Vieira said.
“If the stories about KPB walking off the pitch with teammates after being racially abused are true, fair play to him. Well done #UefaStandUp,” former England captain Ferdinand said on Twitter.
Ferdinand has previously criticized UEFA for fining the Russian FA 30,000 for fan racism at Euro 2012, compared to a 100,000 penalty for Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner over advertising on his underpants.
UEFA president Michel Platini said last year that players who walk off in protest at racist abuse should receive a yellow card for disobeying the referee.