Sulley Muntari, the Ghanian ex-Portsmouth and Sunderland midfielder now playing for Pescara in Serie A, walked off the field on Sunday, saying that he had been shown a yellow card for reporting racist abuse.
With his team trailing 1-0 against Cagliari, Muntari abandoned the pitch in protest after accusing referee Daniele Minelli of failing to spot racist chants that had been leveled at him by opposition fans throughout the match.
The 32-year-old later told reporters that a group of fans had been shouting abuse at him from the start of the match, including a group of children. He said he offered the children his shirt to try and set an example, but it proved futile.
"There was a little kid doing it with his parents standing nearby," said Muntari, "So I went over to him and told him not to do it. I gave him my shirt, to teach him that you're not supposed to do things like that. I needed to set an example so he grows up to be nice.
"[The referee] told me I should not talk to the crowd. I asked him if had heard the insults. I insisted that he must have the courage to stop the game," Muntari added. "The referee should not just stay on the field and blow the whistle, he must do everything. He should be aware of these things and set an example. I am not a victim. But if you stop the matches I am convinced that these things won't happen any more."
Italy is one of the countries most-affected by racism in modern football, with one of the most high-profile cases involving Muntari's Ghana teammate Kevin Prince Boateng, who staged a walk-off after being abused during a pre-season friendly in 2013.
After Sunday's game, Pescara coach, Zdenek Zeman said he sympathised, but said that Muntari should not have walked off.
"Muntari has abandoned the pitch because of racist chants but we should not take justice into our own hands," he said. "We have been talking about racism for years now but nothing happens. Today, this has happened to Muntari who has been playing in Italy for several years now. We need a change of mentality."