German-born footballer Kevin-Prince Boateng has said he may quit Italian soccer after racist abuse prompted his team to abandon a match mid-game. Team owner Silvio Berlusconi has given his backing to the player.
Boateng told the German mass-circulation newspaper Bild on Saturday that he would discuss his future in Italy with his agent.
"I will sleep on this for three nights and meet with my adviser Roger Wittman next week," the player said. "Then we will have to see whether it continues to make sense to play in Italy."
Boateng expressed his disappointment and surprise over the incident at fourth-tier side Pro-Patria, where Serie A side AC Milan were playing in a friendly.
Angered by repeated racist chanting from a group of supporters aimed at himself and teammates M'Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari, Boateng picked up the ball and kicked it towards the stands. He left the pitch, followed by teammates and the club coach Massimiliano Allegri, despite the pleas of Pro-Patria players.
"I was angry, sad and shocked," said the Berlin-born player, who has previously played for Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund and Portsmouth.
"It's a disgrace that something like this could still happen in the year 2013, not only for Italy but for football across the whole world."
"I wanted to give a sign for the whole world that this should not go on."
Further walk-offs possible
The Ghana international, Boateng, whose brother Jerome plays for Germany and Bayern Munich, said he was prepared to leave the pitch again if the same thing happened. He expressed pride that his teammates had followed him off the pitch in solidarity.
Meanwhile, former Italian Prime Minister and owner of AC Milan, Silvio Berlusconi, said he would support his team if they took the same course of action under similar circumstances. Berlusconi branded the scenes at Pro Patria, based near Milan, as "disgraceful."
"I can assure you that in every game, including international [European], if we experience episodes of this nature we will, as a rule, leave the pitch," the Italian news agency ANSA reported Berlusconi as saying.
Italy coach Ceasare Prandelli also praised Boateng and the team for walking off, while the Italian Football Association announced that an investigation into the incident would take place.
rc/kms (dpa, SID)