sport

Pro Patria punished for abuse

Italian club Pro Patria have been ordered to play one match behind closed doors following the racist chanting of their fans during a friendly with AC Milan.

Kevin-Prince Boateng stormed off the pitch after 26 minutes of the match, closely followed by his team-mates, after he was abused by fans of the fourth division side and the match was abandoned as a result.

The Lega Pro, the governing body for Italian football's third and fourth tiers, have ordered them to play a game behind closed doors having noted that Pro Patria were fined 4,000 earlier this season over "similar incidents".

The verdict read: "(The Lega Pro) will impose on the club Aurora Pro Patria

the sanction of the obligation to play a league match behind closed doors, with

immediate effect, with the caveat that further breach will be evaluated as an

occurrence of multiple violations, for the purposes of the subsequent

sanction."

In explaining the decision, the governing body wrote that the incident was particularly serious as it occurred during a friendly and thus could not be "mitigated" by "competitive tension and competitive spirit".

The statement continued: "The penalty to be imposed for incidents of this nature must be not only punitive but also preventative in order to avoid repetition of the episodes themselves.

"In the current season, the Pro Patria club have already been fined for similar incidents with the fine of 5,000 euros (referring to a verdict released on October 30).

"That previous sanction has been shown to be ineffective by this recidivist behaviour."

Following last week's incident FIFA President Sepp Blatter advised players encountering racial abuse not to walk off.

Footballers' union leader Theo van Seggelen agreed with Blatter.

Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete said that the best solution would be keeping racist fans out of stadiums, but that "if necessary, suspending matches temporarily or definitively is OK."