New Zealand Football Takes Stand Against Racism: Abandons Friendly Match, Plans to Contact FIFA

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New Zealand Football Takes Stand Against Racism: Abandons Friendly Match, Plans to Contact FIFA

New Zealand Football (NZF) has announced that it will contact FIFA to address the issue of racism in football, following an incident during a friendly match against Qatar. 

The New Zealand men’s national team abandoned the match at halftime in protest against an alleged racist slur directed at defender Michael Boxall, who has Samoan heritage.

The team reported the incident, but no official action was taken, leading them to collectively decide not to continue the match after halftime. This was one of two matches in Austria on Monday that were abandoned due to allegations of racism, with Ireland’s under-21 team also abandoning their match against Kuwait’s Olympic side due to racist language used by a Kuwaiti player towards an Irish substitute.

NZF CEO Andrew Pragnell expressed full support for the players’ decision and stated that the organization would raise their concerns with FIFA. He emphasized the need for greater measures to protect players from racial attacks on the field and highlighted the importance of addressing the issue promptly.

Qatar coach Carlos Queiroz expressed solidarity with his New Zealand counterpart and stated that the incident should be handled by football authorities. He mentioned that it appeared to be a verbal exchange between two players, and their teams stood by them.

Video footage of the friendly showed several New Zealand players confronting a Qatari player after a free kick was awarded. Following a discussion with New Zealand captain Joe Bell, referee Manuel Schutten Gruber blew the halftime whistle, with New Zealand leading 1-0 thanks to a goal from Marko Stamenic in the 16th minute.

Pragnell expressed the need for NZF to understand why the match officials took no action in response to the incident. The Qatar Football Association confirmed on Twitter that New Zealand had withdrawn from the friendly, but no further details were provided.