By Iminza Keboge
Published May 9, 2017
An African player who was sent off the pitch and given a one-match ban after walking off the field protesting the referee Daniele Minelli’s inability to act on his complaint that he was being racially abused by spectators during a Serie A game at Cagliari in Italy on April 30, 2017 has said the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world’s football-governing body, is not doing enough to end racism in football
In an interview with David Ornstein of BBC Sports, Ghana’s Sulley Muntari says racism is “everywhere and getting worse”, and appeals to any player who falls victim to the vice to protest for the world to take action. The 32-year-old midfielder for Pescara says he would walk off the pitch again if racially abused.
“If I had this problem today, tomorrow or the next game I would go off again,” he tells BBC.
Fiona May, anti-racism advisor to FIGC, had observed that the reputation of the Italian football around the world had been damaged by the Muntari incident prior to the ban on him being reversed.
“Fifa and Uefa only care about what they want to care about. If they want to fight racism they should be able to jump right in and tackle it,” Muntari says in the BBC interview. “But they have nothing to say about it. This is a big deal. Maybe the new president Infantino will do something about it. He has a different mind. I think he is capable of doing something in a good way to fight racism. I want him to fight racism.”
In the interview, Muntari–who has played for Portsmouth and Sunderland in England–says other countries can learn from England where, he says, he did not experience any racist abuse in the Premier League.
“I never heard anything like that in England because I think they don’t tolerate it,” he says.”The people who are racist are really scared to do it in a stadium because they will get prosecuted or banned. But in Italy they go free. England is the example for the world. If a country doesn’t tolerate it then it means you get rid of it.”
Muntari says his ban was overturned after an outpouring of support, and he praised former Tottenham striker Garth Crooks who had called on players in the Italian league to strike if his one-match suspension had not been withdrawn.
“Last week I heard a comment from the ex-Tottenham player and I was really pleased with that – saying if they don’t lift my ban all the players should go on strike – that’s a brave move right there,” he says.”He changed a lot of things by saying that, he changed a lot. I really have great respect for him. He has just fought maybe a per cent of racism right there by speaking out. All players, if they think it’s right and we want to fight racism, we have to come together and do it.”
Fifa and Uefa, reacting to Muntari’s sentiments that they are not taking racism in football seriously, say the Ghanaian player’s case was dealt with by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) that lifted the one-match ban imposed on him.
Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) says “The fight to eliminate racism, discrimination and intolerance from football is a major priority for our organisation.”