Milan defender Kevin Constant kicked a ball into the stands and walked off the pitch in response to alleged racial abuse from spectators during a Trofeo TIM preseason tournament match against newly promoted Serie A side Sassuolo. The incident was sadly very similar to the one just seven months ago when teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng kicked a ball at the stands and was joined by the entire squad in abandoning a friendly against fourth-division club Pro Patria. Except this time, Constant, a French-born Guinea international was the only one who heard the abuse, so he walked off alone in the 33rd minute.
The match held in the northern Italy city of Reggio Emilia was momentarily halted by the officials, but eventually continued with Milan sending on a substitute. The crowd was also warned that the match would be abandoned if any further incidents occurred. Instead of showing solidarity with Constant's decision to walk away, Milan have since issued a statement admonishing his actions while also condemning racism. Their official statement (via Football Italia):
“On the evening of July 23rd 2013 there was another episode involving racist intolerance and this time the victim was Kevin Constant, who reacted by leaving the field of play,” the statement read.
“This was not a decision he should have taken upon himself to make and despite his more than understandable reasons and the anger he must have felt, AC Milan would like to remind everyone that the only people responsible for intervening against any manifestations that offend the human dignity, which includes racial discrimination, are the referee in charge of the match and the head of public safety.
“The use of the legal system and institutional rights, which every member of the public requires to exist in a civil society, does not compensate for the fact that these episodes continue to happen at a frequent rate.
“Racism has no alibis, not if those of a distorted mind believe that men should be divided because of the colour of their skin or because of their nationality, or if their manifestations – gestures, words or sounds – are the result of a foul and nasty recurring essence born of a miserable mind that is incapable of formulating an opinion because such opinions are too horrible.
“Both categories deserve zero tolerance, and they should no longer have it as of today. It is not so much about defending a footballer or a sport but the entire civil world, to which these people have never belonged to.”
Italy's football federation (the FIGC) is now investigating the incident.