Problems Engulf Italy's Serie A

Problems Engulf Italy's Serie A

Kevin-Prince Boateng had had enough.

Just 25 minutes into a friendly against Pro Patria, the racist chanting from the cheap seats finally got to the AC Milan attacker of Ghanaian descent. Right before launching a cross, Boateng picked up the ball, spun sharply and booted it into the stands -- straight at his tormentors. Then, with his head held high, and applauding the better-behaved fans, the 25-year-old strode off the field. Both teams followed. Afterwards, on Twitter, Boateng lamented: "Shame that these things still happen."

Shame indeed, and a shame Italian soccer bears heavily. Worse, racism, like that at the Stadio Carlo Speroni in early January, is not the only ugly mark on the beautiful game in Italy. Calcio -- Italian for soccer -- is in crisis, tarnished by racism and violence, and dogged by corruption. These problems plague Italian soccer from lowly fourth-division teams like Pro Patria, to the very heights of Serie A where Milan sits. That Serie A has failed to solve its biggest problems only highlights the downward spiral of one of soccer's great leagues. The fans are disappearing, the money is vanishing, and the once-sterling reputation may be gone for good.

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