New Zealand Ends the game at the second half
FIFA Friendly — “A friendly or exhibition game in soccer is a non-competitive game played outside of any recognized soccer competition” This is what FIFA friendlies are supposed to mean, but recent events turns just the opposite.
A football clash on Monday between New Zealand and Qatar reached an abrupt end at halftime as the New Zealand side boycotted the second half, citing a racially offensive remark directed at one of their players.
New Zealand’s football team declared their refusal to proceed with the match because their player, Michael Boxall, was racially insulted by a player from Qatar, with no subsequent punitive action taken.
New Zealand Football released a statement shortly after the game was halted, stating, “During the first half of the match, a Qatari player racially offended Michael Boxall. Due to the lack of official intervention, the team collectively decided to not participate in the second half of the game.”
On the other hand, the Qatar Football Association, via their social media, reported that New Zealand had withdrawn from the match but did not mention any racial allegations.
The Qatari Football Association announced, “New Zealand has backed out of today’s friendly match with our national team, 19 June 2023, in Austria. This game was part of Al Annabi’s training schedule for the Gold Cup.”
At the moment of suspension, New Zealand was ahead by 1-0. The match was being hosted at Generali-Arena in Wien, Austria.
New Zealand football further clarified on their website that the offensive racial remark targeted at Boxall, who is of Samoan descent, was heard by multiple team members.
According to their statement, “In today’s New Zealand vs Qatar match in Austria, a Qatari player used a racial slur towards our defender Michael Boxall during a dispute between the players in the 40th minute. Despite the incident being reported, no official measures were taken.”
Andrew Pragnell, CEO of New Zealand Football, supported the team’s decision, saying, “We fully back our players’ unanimous decision. Although we never want to see a match come to a premature end, some matters are larger than the game itself and it’s crucial to take a stand. Racism has no place in football.”
FIFA is waiting for the match reports for further review, as per a spokesperson’s statement to CNN. CNN also reached out to the Qatar Football Association for an additional response.
Carlos Queiroz, Qatar’s manager, suggested that the incident stemmed from a verbal exchange between two players just before halftime. He mentioned that each team stood by their respective players.
An organization, Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), noted, “This form of match abandonment highlights a potential new crisis of discrimination in football. There’s heightened awareness, and younger players are refusing to accept racism or homophobia on the field.”
In a related incident last week, a match between Mexico and the US was temporarily halted in the 90th minute due to homophobic chanting from the audience. The game was ultimately terminated about four minutes early due to the continued discriminatory shouts.
Ireland also Falls Victim to Racism
Monday’s friendly between Ireland’s under-21 team and Kuwait’s Olympic squad ended prematurely in Austria due to alleged racial slurs from a Kuwaiti player towards an Irish substitute. This marked another episode of racial issues plaguing football lately.
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) announced the abrupt conclusion of the under-21 match, attributing it to an offensive racial comment made by a Kuwaiti player.
However, the Kuwait Football Association took to social media to challenge the FAI’s allegations, categorically denying such accusations.
The sport of football has been struggling with racial discrimination issues, which have taken center stage in recent discussions.
Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, announced the establishment of an anti-racism committee headed by Vinicius Jr, a forward for Real Madrid. Vinicius Jr, who has personally experienced racial abuse in Spain’s LaLiga, will lead this initiative.
During a match against Valencia in May, the Brazilian forward faced racial discrimination from the fans. This marks the tenth time this season that LaLiga reported such incidents involving the 22-year-old to legal authorities.
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