Kevin Prince-Boateng Says 'Nothing Has Changed' on Racism in Football

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2018

CAGLIARI, ITALY - AUGUST 26: Kevin Prince Boateng of Sassuolo  during the serie A match between Cagliari and US Sassuolo at Sardegna Arena on August 26, 2018 in Cagliari, Italy.  (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)
Enrico Locci/Getty Images

Sassuolo midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng has said nothing has changed in football with regards to racism since his protest almost six years ago when he walked off the pitch during a friendly against Pro Patria as a member of AC Milan

Boateng joined the new FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination shortly after but has now told ESPN FC's James Horncastle the group didn't talk to him for very long and it all amounted to nothing:

"I had three or four ideas. I put them out there. I spoke to them about it. But at the end of the day, nothing happened. Nothing changed. It's just Champions League. 'Say No to Racism.' That's it.

"The only thing that has changed is that racism is more hidden. It's not up front anymore or people chanting or whatever because they know there's going to be sanctions, people are going to watch [them]. So it's just a little bit more hidden. But it's still there because if you see the last five years, a lot of things happen still, and it's very alarming because after five years nothing has happened, nothing has changed. That's sad."   

During the match against Pro Patria, Boateng, M'Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari were the subject of racist abuse from the fans. He walked off the pitch, followed shortly after by his team-mates. The former Ghana international received a yellow card for walking off, but the booking was later rescinded.

He explained his decision to walk and the immediate aftermath in an interview with CNN:

Boateng left Italy later in 2013, returning to his native Germany. He rejoined Milan in 2016 but played last year with Eintracht Frankfurt before ending up with Sassuolo, where he has performed well this season.

The racism Boateng has experienced wasn't limited to the Italian peninsula. As he told Horncastle, he even experienced it in his native Germany.

After winning the German Cup with Eintracht Frankfurt in May, people called the police because of celebrations with pyrotechnics but likely would have ignored racist chants.

Boateng also talked about the racism you can see on the German streets:

"When you go to Germany, you see the people go on the street. There are maybe three, four thousand racists walking on the street and have the right to walk on the street and put their arm up and do the Hitler sign.

"Come on! We cannot allow that. It's impossible because we have kids watching it, so if we allow that, kids learn that [they are] allowed to do that, [and] maybe they go the wrong way. It's very alarming, but it's even difficult for me. What can I do, I try, I always try to talk, every interview I want to talk about it and explain. But if the big people, the important people, the politicians don't do anything, what can we do?"

Despite that, Boateng has no plans on stopping his fight against racism. He noted the examples of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and NBA superstar LeBron James, high-profile American athletes who have used their voice to bring light to the issues around race and racism.