Tuesday 17 October 2017

Italian Football Federation overturn Sulley Muntari's one-game ban for protesting racial abuse

Sulley Muntari of Pescara react with the supporters during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Pescara Calcio at Stadio Sant'Elia on April 30, 2017 in Cagliari, Italy. (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)
Sulley Muntari of Pescara react with the supporters during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Pescara Calcio at Stadio Sant'Elia on April 30, 2017 in Cagliari, Italy. (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

The one-match ban Sulley Muntari received after protesting against racial abuse from fans has been overturned by the Italian Football Federation.

Muntari complained to the referee about racial abuse during Pescara's 1-0 defeat Cagliari last weekend, but then walked off the pitch in protest after being shown a yellow card and was subsequently sent off.

The former Portsmouth and Sunderland midfielder had been trying to explain to referee Daniele Minelli that a group of Cagliari fans had been racially abusing him before he was booked for a second time for leaving the field.

World footballers' union FIFPro had called for the punishment - which was initially thought only to be a yellow card, Muntari's fifth of the season - to be rescinded.

Former Tottenham striker Garth Crooks had called for black players in Italy to go on strike if Muntari was forced to serve the ban.

Speaking to Italian television after the match, Muntari said he had been abused by a group of fans in the first half but had tried to defuse the situation by giving one of the group, a child, his shirt "to teach him you're not supposed to do things like that".

The former Inter and AC Milan star, who also played 84 games for Ghana between 2002 and 2014, said the abuse continued in the second half so he tried to speak to Minelli.

Muntari said: "He told me that I'm not allowed to speak to the fans. I asked him: 'But didn't you hear?'"

"I told him he should have had the courage to stop the game. The referee's not just there to stand on the pitch and blow his whistle - he has to manage everything. He should also listen out for that kind of thing and set an example."

Earlier this week, a statement on Serie A's official website confirmed authorities had made the decision "not to take sanctioning measures against Cagliari".

The statement, published on www.legaseriea.it, claimed "only 10 supporters, and therefore less than one per cent" of fans were directly involved in the incident.

Press Association

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