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New Zealand abandons Qatar friendly over alleged racist jibe

New Zealand refused to continue post-interval after the referee declined to take action over alleged racial slur.

New Zealand’s football team abandoned its friendly match against Qatar at half-time after accusing a Qatari player of making a racist comment to defender Michael Boxall.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Football New Zealand said the team refused to play the second half in Austria on Monday after the referee refused to take action.

The incident happened with New Zealand leading 1-0 in Ritzing.

Qatar were awarded a free kick when the New Zealanders accused Yousuf Abdurisag of making a racist comment to Boxall, who is of Samoan heritage.

After a melee between the teams in the 40th minute, New Zealand captain Joe Bell complained to referee Manuel Schuttengruber, who shook his head, indicating he would not take action against Abdurisag.

The New Zealand Professional Footballers’ Association (NZPFA) said it stood by the players’ decision.

“We have contacted the team and will work with NZ Football to support the players in any way required,” the NZPFA said. “There is no room for racism in our sport.”

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell also expressed support for his players.

“We never want to see a match abandoned but some issues are bigger than football and it is important to make a stand,” he said in a statement.

‘Exchanged words’

Qatar’s newly appointed coach Carlos Queiroz said the New Zealand captain informed them of his team’s decision not to return.

“The facts are as follows. Apparently, two players on the pitch exchanged words,” Queiroz said. “The New Zealand players decided to support their teammate just as our team decided to support our player.

“They decided to abandon the game with no witnesses. The referee didn’t hear anything, the coach didn’t hear anything; it’s just an argument between two players. I think this is a new chapter in football and a situation that no one can understand. Let the football authorities to make the decision about what happened here,” he told Al Kass TV channel.

“I think the players will be under the observation of FIFA, but I asked the coach and the referees and no one heard anything.”

The Qatar Football Association (QFA) said on its Twitter feed that New Zealand had withdrawn from the friendly, without giving any further details.

Al Jazeera has reached out to the QFA for comment.

‘Racist remark’ in Ireland-Kuwait friendly

The incident was one of the two in Austria on Monday, with Ireland’s football association saying its under-21 team abandoned a match against Kuwait’s Olympic side after a Kuwaiti player used racist language towards an Irish substitute.

Ireland’s football association (FAI) said the under-21 international was abandoned after the “racist remark” by the Kuwaiti player.

The Kuwait Football Association disputed the FAI’s claim in a statement on social media, saying it “categorically rejects such accusations”.

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 has been the victim of racist abuse in Spain’s LaLiga.

The Brazil forward was racially abused by fans when Madrid played Valencia in May, the 10th such incident involving the 22-year-old that LaLiga has reported to prosecutors this season.


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