Sulley Muntari: Anti-racism campaigner criticizes Italian authorities

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    Story highlights

    • Anti-racism campaigner criticizes Italian soccer authorities
    • Piara Powar says there is a 'blind spot' to racism in Italian football
    • Sulley Muntari punished for leaving pitch in face of racial abuse

    (CNN)The Italian authorities have a blind spot when it comes to racism, a leading campaigner in soccer has told CNN.

    Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), said the Italian Football Federation's disciplinary procedures had been found wanting in the wake of the Sulley Muntari case.
    After being racially abused by a section of the crowd during Sunday's Serie A match at Cagliari, the Ghanian midfielder was shown a yellow card by the referee after asking the official to stop the game.
    When the 32-year-old, who was playing for Pescara, walked off the field in protest at his booking he was subsequently shown another yellow card and must now serve a one-match ban.
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    Amid calls for Muntari's punishment to be overturned, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said the ban would stand and that Cagliari would not be punished as the chanting came from around 10 people, which constituted "less than 1% of the crowd" inside the Stadio Sant'Elia stadium.
    "As we've seen with many incidents in Italy, it's been handled very badly," Powar said. "The disciplinary processes have been found wanting.
    "The statements coming out of the Italian FA, and the other authorities, really add salt into the wounds of Sulley Muntari. This idea it was only 10 people involved, although you can clearly hear it on the live television broadcast, and that's not serious enough for them to take action against the opposing club, I think that's a very dangerous standpoint.
    "We also have a real failure by the referee. You have a player who has approached the referee, who is pleading for him to understand what is going on and the referee turns a blind eye, and ends up carding Muntari.
    "I think the whole scenario shows how things are breaking down in European football in some of the countries where they have issues of this kind."
    FFPro, the players' union, urged the Italian authorities to rescind Muntari's punishment, arguing no player should have to take such matters into their own hands.
    Muntari received the backing of former teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng, who walked off the pitch while playing for AC Milan at lower league Italian side Pro Patria in January 2013.
    Soccer's world governing body FIFA said it expressed "full solidarity with Muntari," in a statement sent to CNN. It also said any form of racism was unacceptable but that disciplinary action was a matter for the Italian authorities.
    Though FIFA has no jurisdiction when it comes to domestic matches, Powar did say it could put pressure on the FIGC to review its decision.
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    "What FIFA could do is put a call in and say 'this doesn't look good, this is not in keeping with the way in which we want world football to be dealing with racism, can you have a look at this again?' because clearly there are obvious failures."
    Asked whether Italy was making progress in the fight against racism after this latest high-proifile incident, Powar added: "I think that's because Italy is a big footballing country, has some big stars playing who will not take this sort of abuse that we see happening there.
    "They need to do more. They seem to have a blind spot. I've been speaking to the Italian FA and they really don't seem to get what the fuss is. They see it as an incident that was dealt with effectively, the referee didn't hear the abuse, the player was out of order in their mind."