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New Zealand Football to raise racism concerns with FIFA after Qatar game abandoned


Dressed in black, from left, New Zealand’s Bill Tuiloma, Michael Boxall and Joe Bell during an exchange at the All Whites v Qatar, men’s international friendly football match in Austria on Monday 19 June 2023.
Photo: Christian Hofer /

New Zealand Football (NZF) says it will contact FIFA about protecting players from racism after the All Whites abandoned a friendly against Qatar at half-time in protest at an alleged racial slur against one of their players .

New Zealand said a Qatari opponent directed a “significantly racist mob” at All Whites defender Michael Boxall, who has Samoan heritage, shortly before the interval.

The team said they reported the incident and collectively decided not to take the field after halftime because no official action was taken.

It was one of two games abandoned in Austria on Monday following allegations of racism.

Ireland’s football association said its under-21 team abandoned their match against the Kuwaiti Olympic team after a Kuwaiti player used racist language towards an Irish representative.

Andrew Pragnell, the NZF boss, said his governing body fully supports the players’ position and would contact FIFA with their concerns.

Football NZ Chief Executive Andrew Pragnell expects to be opposed to the change in approach from sporting affairs.

NZ Football CEO Andrew Pragnell
Photo: Photosport

“Definitely we want to contact FIFA about this,” he told reporters in Auckland on Tuesday.

“You know they’ve recently set up a task force on racism, that more needs to be done to protect players from racist attacks on the pitch.

“There’s been some evolution, we don’t think it’s moving fast enough so we want to add to that so that’s going to be one of our first points of contact.”

Qatar coach Carlos Queiroz said his squad was standing by their teammates and the incident was a matter for soccer authorities.

“It seems that two players exchanged words, and we don’t know who was first, who was second, it’s just between them,” the Portuguese coach told Al-kass Sports Channels.

“The New Zealand players decided to support their team-mates and we also decided to support our player.”

‘See the rules’

New Zealand’s friendly video showed several All Whites players mimicking the Qatari player shortly after the free-kick was awarded.

After a lengthy discussion with New Zealand captain Joe Bell, referee Manuel Schuttengruber blew the whistle at half-time with New Zealand leading 1-0 after Marko Stamenic’s goal in the 16th minute.

Pragnell said the NZF needed to better understand why the match officials did not take any action.

“At the end of the day, I think when someone receives significant racial abuse, a lot of people hear it, there are multiple witnesses to something like that and nothing can be done then we have a bigger problem and maybe it’s time we look at the rules,” he said.

The Qatar FA said on Twitter that New Zealand had withdrawn from the friendly, without giving any further details.

The Qatar FA, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation did not immediately comment.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) also said it would be contacting football’s governing bodies about a “racist remark” made to one of its representatives.

“The FAI does not tolerate any racism towards any of our players or staff and this serious matter will be reported to FIFA and UEFA,” the FAI said on social media.

The Kuwait FA disputed the FAI’s description of events and said the referee had stopped the match due to “roughness and tension” between the players.

“The Kuwait Football Association … will reject such allegations,” he said in a statement on social media.

“The referee stopped the game in the 70th minute to protect the players from possible injuries.”

European soccer’s governing body UEFA did not immediately comment.

Racism has dominated football headlines in recent months.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced an anti-racism committee led by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr, who suffered racial abuse in Spain’s LaLiga.

– Reuters

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