UN hails Muntari’s walk-off over racist chants

Referee Daniele Minelli shows the yellow card to Pescara’s Sulley Muntari after the Ghana international alleged he had been subjected to racist abuse from the crowd. Photograph: Fabio Murru/AP

United Nations’ top human rights official on Monday hailed Pescara’s Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari as an “inspiration” for leaving the pitch in protest after the player said he was booked for complaining about racist chanting.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ra’ad al-Hussein, said FIFA needed to pay greater attention to the persistent problem of racism at matches, and that his office had been in touch with the football governing body.

Muntari said he had complained that parts of the crowd, including a group of children, had hurled racist insults at him from the start of his Italian team’s game at Cagliari in the Serie A on Sunday.

The player said the referee then told him to stop talking to the crowd and ended up showing him the yellow card for dissent in the 90th minute.

The UN official said Muntari was “an inspiration to all of us here at the UN human rights office” for taking a stand.

“The persistent problem of racism at games requires added attention or deepened attention by FIFA,” al-Hussein told reporters in Geneva.

He said his office had been in touch with the organisation, without saying when.

The official however added that he planned to attend an international match in about six weeks’ time to spread the message that “racism and expressions of bigotry should not be tolerated at major sporting events”.

He recalled another “deeply alarming” match, in Ukraine, where Dynamo Kiev fans wore Ku Klux Klan (KKK) outfits and swastikas.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Italy and other countries have struggled to stamp out racist chants at games.

In 2013, the AC Milan team left the pitch during a friendly in the town of Busto Arsizio after home fans insulted midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, another Ghanaian.

(Reuters/NAN)

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