Skip to main content

Boateng wants refs to have stronger powers in racism fight

March 22, 2013 -- Updated 1813 GMT (0213 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • AC Milan player invited to become part of FIFA's anti-discrimination task force
  • Kevin-Prince Boateng tells CNN that referees need more power to combat racism
  • He says there will be stronger sanctions from football authorities in the future
  • Boateng says he is still stunned by worldwide impact of his protest walkoff

(CNN) -- Kevin-Prince Boateng has urged football authorities to give referees "all the power" in the game's bid to stamp out racism on and off the pitch.

The AC Milan star started something big when he walked off during a friendly match in January in protest at racist abuse from the crowd, and he told CNN he is determined to help bring in even stronger sanctions to combat one of the game's biggest problems.

"I would give all the power to the referees," he said Friday before meeting with the head of football's governing body to discuss issues of discrimination.

"I would even go so far to say, even if you hear a little bit, and you hear it again, stop the game -- because that's the only way I think you can make these voices silent. That's the only way.

Read: Boateng vows to walk off again

Boateng: We can't ignore racism
Exclusive: Boateng on racist abuse
CNN FC: Wright on racism

"Even maybe put people in the stadium, maybe sit some people in the crowd so that they can hear and see maybe that it's racial or that it's very aggressive ... and tell (the match officials) what they heard."

After the meeting with Sepp Blatter in Zurich, FIFA announced that Boateng has been invited to become part of its task force against racism and discrimination.

The other members have yet to be named, but Boateng hopes they will be able to lay down strong guidelines to deter racist behavior.

"I hope they are going to wake up tomorrow morning and say, 'Today -- even more.' And, the next day wake up and say we fight even more against it," said Boateng, who on Thursday gave a speech at a United Nations conference in Geneva discussing racism and sport.

"In this moment now we are speaking about it, but to wake up tomorrow morning and do something about it, that's a different thing.

"Things will change, I'm very positive about that. We can see the changes already. There are going to be more sanctions -- harder -- and I think this is the right way, I'm looking forward to that."

Read: FIFA vows tougher action against racists

The 26-year-old is still coming to terms with the impact of his actions in January, when his teammates followed him off the pitch. It not only ended the match against Italian fourth division team Pro Patria, but it also sparked worldwide debate about whether it was the right thing to do.

"At the end, after not even 10 minutes, I had like 86 phone calls on my phone and I thought something had happened, but it was just an unbelievable impact. It went all around the world within the first hour," Boateng said.

"People were calling me, my agent was calling me, my family members, and I was like, what did I do? Because for me it was just a situation, I felt I needed to do that -- I was angry and a bit disappointed. But it was just unbelievable how it spread around the world."

Alex Ferguson: 'Racism still exists'
Hayatou: Good example key against racism
Sorry Blatter refuses to quit

Boateng reiterated his stance that he would do the same again, if it was a top-level European match or even the World Cup final.

"I think we should not accept and tolerate it anywhere, or any game, whether it's a friendly game or a World Cup final. If I feel this is racial abuse I would even do it in a Champions League final.

Read: Meet Italy's proud football racists

"Then of course it's a different situation, there's a lot of money involved. Would my teammates all follow me? I don't know because it's a totally different situation, but for my part I would do the same."

Boateng admitted that when he was younger he had "ignored" racist abuse, but now as a father he is determined to make a difference.

"I have a little son -- I'm taking care of these things because I want my son to grow up in a nice place and not in a place where he has to be confronted by racism," he said.

Boateng grew up in Berlin and represented Germany at youth level, but switched allegiances to Ghana -- where his father was born.

He said earlier in his career he had no faith the football authorities would take effective steps against racism, but has recently been impressed with sanctions -- such as Greek club AEK Athens banning one of its promising young players who made a fascist salute.

Read: Berlusconi's brother calls Balotelli 'little black boy'

"I thought it's never going to change, maybe they will not ever do enough to fight against it. But now the most recent example we saw of it, I think they are doing much, much better -- that players get banned for playing forever for a club or teams playing without the supporters.

"I think that is the right direction we have to move forward like that and I think then the people will understand."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT