Match officials should have the last word on responding to racist abuse from supporters, AC Milan have insisted, after Kevin Constant walked off the pitch in a pre-season match last night.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has launched an investigation into alleged racist abuse at a friendly game between Milan and Sassuolo in Reggio Emilia that caused Guinea international defender Constant to leave the field.
The 26-year-old was preparing to take a throw-in during the first half of the TIM Trophy match at the Stadio del Tricolore when, seemingly in response to racist insults from the crowd, he angrily kicked the ball high into the stands before walking off.
The incident comes seven months after Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng also left the field in almost identical fashion after being the victim of racist abuse during a friendly against fourth-tier side Pro Patria.
On that occasion the Ghana midfielder was followed off by the rest of the Milan side and the match was abandoned, and while the Rossoneri have been at the forefront of promoting new anti-racism legislation in Italy, the club's management today stressed officials remain responsible for reacting to any "manifestations that offend human dignity".
A statement published on acmilan.com read: "On the evening of July 23, 2013 there was another episode involving racist intolerance and this time the victim was Kevin Constant, who reacted by leaving the field of play.
"This was not a decision he should have taken upon himself to make and despite his more than understandable reasons and the anger he must have felt, AC Milan would like to remind everyone that the only people responsible for intervening against any manifestations that offend human dignity, which includes racial discrimination, are the referee in charge of the match and the head of public safety.
"The use of the legal system and institutional rights, which every member of the public requires to exist in a civil society, does not compensate for the fact that these episodes continue to happen at a frequent rate.
"Racism has no alibis, not if those of a distorted mind believe that men should be divided because of the colour of their skin or because of their nationality, or if their manifestations - gestures, words or sounds - are the result of a foul and nasty recurring essence born of a miserable mind that is incapable of formulating an opinion because such opinions are too horrible.
"Both categories deserve zero tolerance, and they should no longer have it as of today. It is not so much about defending a footballer or a sport but about defending the entire civil world, to which these people have never belonged to."
Last night's game continued, with Milan substituting Constant before going on to lose to newly-promoted Serie A side Sassuolo 2-1.
The FIGC today announced in a statement it was looking into the incident involving Constant.
It read: "The federal prosecutor's office has opened an investigation to ascertain the extent of the racist incident that took place yesterday evening at the Stadio del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia during the Milan-Sassuolo match (Trofeo TIM), which saw AC Milan player Kevin Constant the subject of chants from some supporters in the stands."