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Roma's chance to bounce back

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Pro Patria at centre of fresh controversy

Pro Patria, the Italian club at the centre of the racism incident that led Kevin-Prince Boateng and his AC Milan team-mates to walk off the pitch in a friendly earlier this month, have become engulfed in a similar controversy.

On Saturday, a youth team game between Pro Patria and Casale was stopped in the 38th minute after Casale player Fabiano Riberio slapped a Pro Patria player he then accused of racially abusing him.

A fight broke out among the two teams before order was restored, only for Casale's Riberio to be sent off for his part in the brawl.

But, after he told his coaches what he had heard, they called off the match and reported the incident to the league. The referee has said he did not hear what was said, and Pro Patria officials have strongly denied any wrongdoing.

"I spoke with the leaders of Casale, who apologised for what happened," Pro Patria owner Pietro Vavassori said. "For us, nothing has happened and no one has heard anything, apart from the one Casale boy."

The club's director general, Raffaele Ferrara, added: "We have not apologised to the boy from Casale as this does not seem right. Firstly I have to protect our player, as he too is only a boy, and at the moment there is nothing to apologise for."

Lega Pro has asked the Italian Football Federation to look into the issue, following its handling of Pro Patria's friendly with AC Milan on January 2, during which Boateng walked off the pitch after being insulted by fans of the fourth tier side.

The midfielder has been widely applauded for his actions and recently received an invitation to speak at an anti-racism conference organised by the United Nations.