Boateng wants refs to have stronger powers in racism fight

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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

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

"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."

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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."

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.

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"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."

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