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Wednesday 10th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Fifa president defends Muntari who was racially abused

FIFA president Gianni Infantino yesterday slammed the “idiots” who directed monkey chants at Sulley Muntari last month and offered to speak to the Ghanaian football player who was initially banned for protesting against racism.

Muntari said he was treated like a “criminal” after being shown two yellow cards when he walked off the field during a Serie A game in response to the racial abuse. The Pescara midfielder was infuriated after unsuccessfully trying to get the referee to halt the April 30 game at Cagliari.

Muntari eventually persuaded the Italian Football Association to overturn the one-game ban but Infantino is perturbed that the referee did not follow Fifa protocols. The world football leader issued a public reminder of the correct response to player complaints.

“The three-step process [is] stop the game, make an announcement, stop the game a while, get the players out,” Infantino said. “Unfortunately idiots [are to blame]. There are always idiots everywhere but we have to fight them ... continue to fight.

“It’s good to bring these things out when they happen. We have to work.”

Infantino was speaking hours after Muntari gave an interview to the BBC, in which he said Fifa were not taking racism seriously.

He said: “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,” he said.

“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.”

Muntari also said that he would not hesitate to walk off the pitch again should he be racially abused and that other players should do the same.

“If I had this problem today, tomorrow or the next game I would go off again,” he said.

“And I’d recommend it to others. If they are not feeling it they should walk off.”

Muntari then questioned Fifa’s commitment to tackling racism, concerns Infantino wants to hear directly.

Fifa infamously disbanded its anti-racism task force last year, claiming it had “completely fulfilled its temporary mission” and “is hereby dissolved and no longer in operation.”

“Of course I will speak to [Carlo] Tavecchio,” Infantino said, referring to the Italian Football Association president who was banned for racism himself in 2014. “I will speak to Muntari as well ... we will work together.