Two international football matches held in Austria were marred by incidents of racial abuse, leading to the abandonment of the games.One match featured New Zealand against Qatar, while the other involved the Republic of Ireland playing against Kuwait. During the first match, a New Zealand player claimed to have been racially abused by an opponent, prompting the team to refuse to return for the second half. Similarly, the Ireland versus Kuwait match was cut short after a racist remark was allegedly made by a Kuwaiti player towards an Irish substitute.
The New Zealand football federation tweeted, “Michael Boxall was racially abused during the first half of the game by a Qatari player. No official action was taken, so the team has agreed not to come out for the second half of the match.”
These incidents once again highlight the persistent issue of racism in football and emphasize the urgent need to address it. New Zealand Football (NZF), the governing body of soccer in the country, fully supported the players’ decision to abandon the game, stating that racism has no place in the sport. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) also condemned the racist remark and pledged to report the matter to FIFA and UEFA.
These incidents underscore the importance of taking a firm stance against racism and promoting inclusivity in football. FIFA President Gianni Infantino recently announced the establishment of an anti-racism committee led by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr, who himself has experienced racial abuse in Spain’s LaLiga.
It is crucial for football authorities to thoroughly investigate these incidents and take appropriate action. The players involved, both from New Zealand and Ireland, deserve support and protection against racial discrimination. The fact that these incidents occurred during international friendlies, where teams come together to foster goodwill and sportsmanship, is particularly disheartening.
According to New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell, racism has no place in football or any other aspect of society. It tarnishes the beauty of the game and undermines the principles of fairness, equality, and respect. The football community, including governing bodies, clubs, players, and fans, must unite to eradicate racism and create a safe and inclusive environment for all participants.