Sulley Muntari is one of Ghana’s biggest soccer stars. He plays for one of Europe’s top soccer leagues in the Pescara team. Muntari recently became the victim of racist abuse from soccer fans during one of the team’s matches.
The game between Muntari’s Pescara and Cagliari was held on Sunday, April 30. The 32-year old Ghanaian had been the focus of racist taunts by fans during the game.
In the last stages of the match, he had requested that the referee stops the match and instead got a yellow card for dissent. His response to that was to walk off the pitch and leave his team one man down to complete the match. That action also got him another yellow card and to crown it all up, Sulley Muntari has now been banned for one match
Meanwhile, Serie A’s disciplinary committee said that no action would be taken against Cagliari over the incident. According to the committee, “an approximate number of only 10” individuals were involved, which is not enough to warrant a punishment against the club under Serie A rules.
Their description is vastly different from Muntari’s who said that he suffered abuse throughout his side’s 1-0 defeat match. Sulley Muntari said after the game;
“[The referee] told me I should not talk to the crowd,”
“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.”
The entire incident has started up an old debate about how racial abuse should be dealt with by referees and league authorities. Although players from diverse backgrounds play for the league in question, several black players in the league’s top division have been racially abused during games.
A quick, accessible example is Mario Balotelli, an Italian with Ghanaian roots who has been a regular target although he has appeared 33 times for the Italian national team in international competitions.
This is far from being Sulley Muntari’s first time suffering such attacks. In 2013, while playing for AC Milan, Muntari and his other black teammates became the target of racist chants during an exhibition match against a lower-league team in Lombardy. The players had walked off the field in protest.
Sulley Muntari will not have to stand against this injustice alone
After that particular incident, Italy’s soccer federation condemned the action as “unspeakable and intolerable” and promised to “react with force.” It could be that the numbers of players involved and the international platform made them take a hard stance on that particular incident because the handling of this recent incident leaves a lot to be desired.
Sulley Muntari is, however, not left alone in this fight. He is receiving support from his club member and another footballer, Garth Crooks has called for black players in Italy to strike.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN’s high commissioner for human rights, is just one of the people who have hailed Muntari’s as an “inspiration.” He said that such drastic actions are necessary in the face of injustices that should have long ago been eradicated from the game.