Italian federation probes alleged racism at Milan game

MILAN Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:21pm BST

AC Milan's Kevin Constant reacts after AS Roma's Erik Lamela (not pictured) scored during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Rome December 22, 2012. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

AC Milan's Kevin Constant reacts after AS Roma's Erik Lamela (not pictured) scored during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Rome December 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito

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MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's football federation (FIGC) has opened an investigation into alleged racist chanting after AC Milan midfielder Kevin Constant fired a ball into the stands and walked off the pitch in protest during a match on Tuesday.

The walkout by the French-born Guinean player, during a pre-season tournament match against Sassuolo in the northern city of Reggio Emilia, comes just months after a similar incident involving AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Boateng led the team off the pitch during a friendly in January in protest at racist chanting by the lower division side Pro Patria's home fans.

"The federation's prosecutor has opened an investigation to ascertain the extent of the racist episode which took place yesterday evening... which saw AC Milan player Kevin Constant subjected to chants from some supporters in the stands," FIGC said in a statement on their website (www.figc.it).

Constant was replaced during Tuesday's game that AC Milan went on to lose 2-1.

Milan's CEO Adriano Galliano condemned the abusive fans, but said Constant should not have walked off the pitch.

"The chants are despicable and must be fought," Galliani said according to state news wire Ansa.

"Total solidarity to Constant because it was unspeakable, but I have said it before, he should not have walked off the field."

Italy has a serious problem with discrimination in football, which shows no sign of being eradicated despite renewed efforts from the authorities.

Both FIFA and European soccer's governing body UEFA have vowed to take a tougher stand on discrimination and have recently approved new measures to combat racism.

Sassuolo are about begin their first season in Serie A, after winning the second tier title.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Steve Scherer; editing by Toby Davis)

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