New Zealand Football has challenged FIFA to do more to tackle racism after the men’s national team abandoned Monday’s friendly with Qatar in protest at racist remarks against a player going unpunished.
During the match Qatari Yusuf Abdurisag Yusuf clashed with Michael Boxall, who is of Samoan heritage, with Boxall reporting to Austrian referee Manuel Schüttengruber that Yusuf had used racist language against him. The officials took no action so the New Zealand players collectively decided not to retake the field for the second half.
New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said “We never want to see a match abandoned but some issues are bigger than football and it is important to make a stand. I think when someone receives significant racial abuse, multiple people hear it, there’s multiple witnesses to something like that and nothing can be done then we’ve got a bigger problem and maybe it’s time we look at the rules.”
Pragnell added “Certainly we want to reach out to FIFA on this. You know they have recently established a task force around racism; more needs to be done to protect players from racial attacks on the field. There’s been some evolution; we don’t think it’s moving fast enough so we want to contribute to that.”
The Qatar Football Association issued a statement in response “Yusuf Abdurisag Yusuf confirmed an exchange of words with an opponent – in the heat of the moment – shortly before half-time, Yusuf stressed that no racial of discriminatory language was used or directed towards any player of the New Zealand team. In the contrary, Yusuf stressed that, in fact, he himself was racially abused during the match.”
Also on Monday a match between Kuwait’s Olympic team and the Ireland under 21s was abandoned before full time following an alleged racist remark against an Irish player.