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Muntari: 'UEFA and FIFA are not taking racism seriously'

BACK IN THE GAME: Sulley Muntari (photo credit: Getty Images)

LAST WEEK Sulley Muntari was temporarily banned after he walked off the football pitch during a game in Cagliari, Italy because of racist taunts from the crowd whilst playing midfield for his team Pescara. Muntari has since opened-up about the impact of the incident and its wider implications for football.

In conversation with the BBC about his decision to walk away from the game, a contravention of rules itself, the 32 year-old Ghanaian shared:

"I went off the field 'cause I felt it...it wasn't right for me to be on the filed whilst I'd been racially abused, so I went off because I wanted to, 'cause I have the right to do that. In the last week I went through hell, was treated just like a criminal but anyway...I'm gonna go out if it happens today, tomorrow, and the next game I'm gonna go out again.

"They (fans) were abusing my skin colour. Really I felt pity for them because...they weren't even getting under my beautiful skin. They were far from getting under it because I was so strong, better than them.

"We're playing football here, we're under FIFA, we're under UEFA and you (FIFA and UEFA) have nothing to say about it. This is really a big deal. Racism is a big deal. They (FIFA and UEFA) only do things that they are interested in...if you were interested in something, right away you'd jump right in...things that are good for them, they do it.

"Do you know how much they go through (black players)? There are a lot of them but they can't speak, because they don't have the platform to speak, they don't have the people to speak to. They fear they will lose their contract, they will lose their job, everything.

"So, if FIFA wanna do something and UEFA wanna do something about it, of course they can. We shouldn't tolerate it. Whoever does that (shout racist abuse during a match), he gets pulled out, he gets banned, the home team they get banned, they get fined. If it's possible, they should do the regulations like they do laws, but we have to come together and do it right; because one man only can't fight it."

In a public statement, UEFA said:

"The fight to eliminate racism, discrimination and intolerance from football is a major priority for our organisation.

"UEFA condemns such deplorable behaviour and has always shown zero tolerance for any form of racism and discrimination."

FIFA also reacted to the abuse faced by Muntari by saying it would "like to express full solidarity with Muntari."

The statement continued:

"Any form of racism on or outside the field is totally unacceptable and has no place in football. As to the disciplinary consequences, this falls under the jurisdiction of the relevant national body."

Muntari went on to speak about his days at Sunderland and Portsmouth:

"I never heard anything like that in England because I think they don't tolerate it. The people who are racist are really scared to do it in a stadium because they will get prosecuted or banned. But in Italy they go free.

"England is the example for the world. If a country doesn't tolerate it then it means you get rid of it."

Muntari also praised the actions of former Tottenham Hotspur player Garth Crooks:

"Last week I heard a comment from the ex-Tottenham player and I was really pleased with that - saying if they don't lift my ban all the players should go on strike - that's a brave move right there.

"He changed a lot of things by saying that, he changed a lot. I really have great respect for him. He has just fought maybe a per cent of racism right there by speaking out."

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