Kevin-Prince Boateng speaks exclusively to CNN’s Pedro Pinto
In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Pedro Pinto Friday, AC Milan star Kevin-Prince Boateng defends his decision to walk off the pitch after being racially abused during Thursday’s friendly game with Pro Patria.
“I don’t care if it’s a friendly game, or the Serie A, or a Champions League game, if these things were to ever happen to me again I would walk off the pitch,” says Boateng.
Boateng on his decision to walk off the pitch
“I’m 25 years old and I don’t want to see this bullshit anymore. For myself no one could convince me to play anymore, I said straight I’m not going to go on this pitch anymore. They can’t convince me to play in a crown or in a place like this. I made my mind up straight.”
Boateng on his immediate reaction to racist abuse
“I was angry, I was sad, I was disappointed and this all came together and I just decided I’m not going to play anymore. I don’t want to play in front of a crowd who are doing things like this or in a place like this.”
Boateng on his advice to other players facing racist abuse
“I would say to everybody that if you feel you don’t want to play, and if you feel you don’t want to play in this moment anymore because it’s not nice and to the point that they are angry, then definitely I would tell them to walk off the pitch.”
Boateng on Clarence Seedorf , who said he should not have walked off the pitch:
“First of all I have to respect his opinion. But personally I think his opinion is wrong. Because I think every single person who does something like this deserves to see our attention to say you should go out, you should not be in this place. They should have 100% of our attention every single time. Because that is the only way we can keep them away from the sports. And I think just his opinion is wrong.”
Part one: http://on.cnn.com/TBou0l
Part two: http://on.cnn.com/WbEJh8
FULL TRANSCRIPT AFTER THE JUMP:
**Any use of this content must credit CNN World Sport.**
Pedro Pinto, CNN World Sport anchor: Prince, and I am going to call you Prince because I know you prefer to be referenced as that, I want you to tell me exactly what you saw and what you heard in the match against Pro Patria.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, AC Milan midfielder: First of all hello and thank you for this opportunity to talk. It started after 5minutes when we started the friendly game. When I heard the group in the corner when they were doing noises like monkeys. so first I didn’t really want to realise it, but then it happened a second time to Muntari, and then I spoke to the referee and I said to the referee, listen, if this happens again I am not going to play anymore. The referee was like don’t worry don’t worry don’t worry, and I said to him well yeah i do worry, because it is not nice. So the next time I was trying to dribble past a player and I heard the noises again from the stand so that’s when I stopped the game and I shot the ball to them. I was really angry in this moment. that’s why I shot the ball into the crowd.
Pinto: Had you talked to any of the other black players in the Milan team that were being abused as well before you decided to take that stand?
KPB: No, I didn’t speak to anyone because in the field you don’t really have time to talk about anything. But I could hear before they did it to Muntari and even before they did it to me.
Pinto: What did it make you feel, Prince?
KPB: That’s difficult to answer, there are so many emotions. I was angry I was sad I was disappointed and this all came together and I just decided I’m not going to play anymore. I don’t want to play in front of a crowd who are doing things like this or in a place like this. I didn’t like it, there were so many negative emotions that came up in me. I was surprised that the time we’re living in now, it’s 2013, and still these things happen and still they come up and we still have to fight against these things.
Pinto: I remember a couple of incidents where other black players were being abused and they started to walk off the field like Marco Zoro in Italy and similar in Spain, but they were convinced to stay. What was it that provoked you to walk off the pitch, because I saw other players trying to talk to you and trying to calm you down, but when did you decide no I’m not coming back?
KPB: First of all it is not the first time in my life that I have to hear things like this, I think – I’m 25 years old and I don’t want to see this bullshit anymore. For myself no one could convince me to play anymore, I said straight I’m not going to go on this pitch anymore. They can’t convince me to play in a crown or in a place like this. I made my mind up straight.
Pinto: You got the support from your teammates who walked off with you, and after the match you manager Allegri …. supported your action. What did that mean to you?
KPB: It meant a lot. I am very very happy that the team stood beside me. Even today I had a call from the president, Berlusconi, and he said that he’s on my side and I did the right thing to walk off, and that we don’t tolerate any racism anywhere in the world, and especially on the football field. So that made me very happy that I don’t stand alone against this. I said in the change room after, that black and white is the same, we all just have one colour and that is blood colour, and that is red. So I am very happy that they supported me.
Pinto: I believe you are the first play to have led the walk off of a team in a situation like this. Do you realize that you are a pioneer perhaps?
KPB: I realised it after and today when I saw how many people support me, and I could only write it on Twitter to say thank you. But I wanted even to use this chance now to say thank you to everybody who supports me and who wants to go down this road with me. Because for me I don’t care if it’s a friendly game, or the Serie A, or a Champions League game, if these things were to ever happen to me again I would walk off the pitch. And I think all those people who support me will support me even when I do it in a big game.
I’ve seen all of the support from England, whether it’s Rio Ferdinand or Vieira, and big players support me, and I just want to say thank you.
Pinto: Would you urge other players to do the same, evening if it is the final of the Champions League or the final of the World Cup?
KPB: Definitely. I would say to everybody that if you feel you don’t want to play, and if you feel you don’t want to play in this moment anymore because it’s not nice and to the point that they are angry, then definitely I would tell them to walk off the pitch.
Pinto: I don’t know if you saw what Gennaro Guttuso said, he said he’s lived about 5kms away from the town Butzo Atizzio where the match took place. He said there are no racists there and that this wasn’t a case of racism, it was just some imbeciles acting in a stupid manner. How do you react to something like that?
KPB: I think if someone was not there he cannot say there were no racists. Because in the moment it was not only me who felt attacked, there were other players in my team who told me after that it was not nice. The noises like a monkey – and every body knows that if someone does that in a stadium, it means that in this moment we are the black people – so it was 100% racist. It had nothing to do with football, it had nothing to do with our team playing against them like a rivalry, no it was not, and that is why I acted like that.
Pinto: There has been no direct response from UEFA or FIFA, however FIFA was contacted by us and they just reiterated their overall position against racism, they didn’t reply directly about the AC Milan v Pro Patria game. How does that make you feel Prince? And I know for a fact that a lot of people that make decisions in football around the world watch CNN, what would you tell them?
KPB: I would just tell them that we have to wake up, we have to open our eyes. Because in this time, it’s 2013 and we still have to live with this. I am sad and angry that I have to be the one who does this step, I have to be the one who walks off the field. There are so many people, FIFA or whatever, that can do something against this. They should wake up and do it.
Pinto: What should they do specifically?
KPB: They should not tolerate it. If there is a little racism they should be banned from the stadium forever. they should not even enter the stadium anymore. Never again. That’s the first thing they can do.
Pinto: Would you support criminal action as well?
KPB: Yes, of course. If they are racist I would even get them to court. They have the videos, they have everybody, get them selected and get them to court if it doesn’t get better. There are so many things you can do. But to be like we didn’t see it or we didn’t hear it, that’s the worst. We have to open our eyes, open our ears, listen to everything, see everything, and react on that.
Pinto: So you don’t think the football authorities are doing enough to fight racism?
KPB: If it still happens, I think it is not enough what they do. It’s not like I woke up in the morning and said today I am going to go and do a signal to the world, no. But it happened, so I did what I had to do. I want to open their eyes and say to people, look it is still here and it is still existing.
Pinto: Would you ever consider quitting football if this kind of abuse didn’t stop?
KPB: No I would not go this far. There are some very stupid people and if they are still there I will give them my attention, and I will try to kick them out. But I love the game so much that I would never quit football because of some stupid people.
Pinto: Is anything planned for the next few days? If the club going to hold a press conference or you mentioned Silvio Berlusconi contacted you, has anything been talked about as far as communications of the club as far as a reaction?
KPB: No. he called me before and he just wanted to tell me that he sends me a big hug and he is very proud of what I did, and I don’t know the further actions that we are going to take now, but definitely it is not going to stay like this.
Pinto: Prince, it was great to have you on CNN, thank you so much for describing this incident which effected you, which effected your teammates, and hopefully it will serve as an example in the future for other fans not to act in a similar way.
KPB: Thank you too and I hope so too.