Posted On Friday, 19th April 2013
By George Boateng, Ghana-born ex-Dutch international
In all of my time in English football, I have to say, that I never once experienced racist abuse directed towards myself.
And I’ve played in some hostile grounds. Games at places like at Upton Park or in Birmingham derbies were always heated occasions. The fans were very passionate, but they never showed any kind of racist attitude towards players.
Playing in Europe though, is a different story. Every time we played for Aston Villa and for Middlesbrough in Europe, the racism there was clear to see. There were always monkey chants from the stands.
The best example I can think of was 18-months-ago when I was playing for Skoda Xanthi in Greece against Panathinaikos.
Djibril Cissé was playing for them and he scored a goal, in what was a home game for us.
All the fans then started throwing bananas on the field. It was terrible to see, because there were four black players in my own team who started the game.
After that Cissé just wanted to quit, and I had to calm him down, saying, “what they want to do is distract you from your performance, you can’t let them do that”.
When Kevin-Prince Boateng recently walked off the pitch while representing AC Milan, I thought it was exactly the right thing to do, because players’ action against racism is very important. But the ultimate responsibility has to be with the football authorities.
This is why Uefa and Fifa have to do something about racism in the game.
The way the FA dealt with the cases of Luis Suárez and John Terry was disappointing, because, in both instances, the whole country was left with the impression there was not a consistent authority.
We all know that if you get a straight red card for dangerous play what the punishment will be, so there should be a consistent punishment for racist offences.
The referee also has to be responsible. In Holland, if there is ever racist or abusive chanting from the stands we stop the game and go off the pitch.
I think we should follow that system, but also introduce a rule where, if abuse then continues, the game should be called off, and, as a punishment, the match should be rescheduled with the home and away teams reversed.
One thing is for sure, we have to unite as a group because we all have a role to play in the elimination of racist abuse in football.