Muntari walks off in protest over racial abuse

Pescara's Ghanaian Sulley Muntari was the target of Cagliari fans during a Serie A match on Sunday.
Pescara's Ghanaian Sulley Muntari was the target of Cagliari fans during a Serie A match on Sunday.

MILAN • Sulley Muntari dramatically walked off the pitch while playing for Pescara at Cagliari on Sunday after the Ghanaian footballer's complaints of racist abuse were met with a yellow card.

The former AC Milan and Inter Milan midfielder, who claimed the abuse also came from children, angrily confronted Cagliari fans during the Italian Serie A match, shouting at them: "This is my colour."

The 32-year-old could now face disciplinary measures after deciding to leave the field seconds before full time in the 1-0 defeat - a decision that earned him a second yellow card, and then a red, from referee Daniele Minelli.

Earlier, he had spoken directly with a section of the Cagliari supporters targeting him with racist abuse.

"They shouted at me from the beginning of the game, and in the first half I saw children in the group, so I went to their parents and gave them my jersey to set an example and to say you are not supposed to do that," he said.

"I tried to reason with them but the referee told me I had to stop. That's when I got p****d off. Why did he not stop the match?

"I am not a victim, but I am convinced that if they stopped the matches, this kind of thing would not happen any more."

While leaving the pitch in frustration, Muntari went to address more supporters, showing them his arm and shouting: "This is my colour, this is my colour."

His protest was later backed by Pescara coach Zdenek Zeman, although in comments to Sky Sport the Czech veteran said Muntari should not have walked out.

"He asked the referee to intervene, but the referee (had) neither heard nor saw anything," Zeman said. "Muntari was right, but he shouldn't have left the pitch."

Muntari was at Milan when team-mate Kevin Prince Boateng angrily walked off the pitch while being targeted with racist abuse during a friendly with lower-league side Pro Patria in January 2013.

It prompted a wave of support on social media, although football's ruling body Fifa, while applauding Boateng's principles, said it did not condone his decision to walk off.

Italy has struggled to stop racist chanting in its stadiums and there have been a number of incidents over the years.

"We have been talking about racism for years now but nothing happens," Zeman said. "Today, this has happened to Muntari who has been playing in Italy for several years now. We need a change of mentality."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'Muntari walks off in protest over racial abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe