Two international football matches in Austria were marred by incidents of racial abuse, leading to the abandonment of the games.
In one match, New Zealand faced Qatar, while in the other, the Republic of Ireland played against Kuwait. The New Zealand team refused to return for the second half after a player claimed to have been racially abused by an opponent. Similarly, the Ireland vs Kuwait match was cut short when a racist remark was allegedly made by a Kuwaiti player towards an Irish substitute.
“Michael Boxall was racially abused during the first half of the game by a Qatari player. No official action was taken, so the team have agreed not to come out for the second half of the match,” the New Zealand football federation tweeted.
The incidents highlight the persistent issue of racism in football and the urgent need to address it. New Zealand Football (NZF), the governing body of soccer in the country, expressed full support for the players’ decision to abandon the game, asserting that there is no room for racism in the sport. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) also condemned the racist remark and vowed to report the matter to FIFA and UEFA.
These incidents underscore the importance of taking a stand against racism and promoting inclusivity in football. FIFA President Gianni Infantino recently announced the establishment of an anti-racism committee led by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr, who himself has been a victim of racial abuse in Spain’s LaLiga.
It is crucial for football authorities to thoroughly investigate these incidents and take appropriate action. The players involved, both from New Zealand and Ireland, deserve support and protection against racial discrimination. The fact that these incidents occurred in international friendlies, where teams come together to foster goodwill and sportsmanship, is particularly disheartening.
Racism has no place in football or any other aspect of society, said New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell. It is a stain on the beautiful game and undermines the principles of fairness, equality, and respect. The football community, including governing bodies, clubs, players, and fans, must unite to eradicate racism and create a safe and inclusive environment for all participants.