Muntari says racists incidents happen in 'every game'
Midfielder says he would support a player strike
He has played for some of Europe’s top soccer clubs and represented Ghana in three World Cups, but Sulley Muntari says he experiences racism every day.
The footballer adds matter-of-factly that racism is everywhere and getting worse, which perhaps explains why he’s not unaccustomed to being abused for the color of his skin.
But on April 30, when the Ghana midfielder left the pitch during a top flight Italian league game after being booked for complaining of being abused by a section of fans, he said his “cup was full.”
As world football heads convened in Bahrain for FIFA’s annual congress this week, one player in particular would have had more than a passing interest in the agenda.
A week on and that top-flight match against Cagliari in Sardinia still feels like yesterday to the Pescara player.
He composes himself as the emotions of that day come flooding back. He remembers talking to the fans, pleading with the referee Daniele Minelli to stop the game, before walking off after receiving a yellow card.
“He (the referee) told me I shouldn’t talk to the fans,” said the former AC Milan midfielder.
“I can be abused and not say anything about it – that’s when I got angry. I told him this is about my skin color.
“I don’t know where I got my patience from, because I was really cool and then I just walked off the pitch.”
‘This isn’t the first time’
Muntari initially received a one-match ban for the two yellow cards he received in that match – the first for dissent and the second for leaving the pitch.
The suspension was later rescinded, but the former Ghana international says he was “treated like a criminal.”
If the treatment of Muntari has received worldwide attention, it seems to have had little effect on some fans who attend Serie A games.
Muntari was on the substitutes’ bench for his club’s home game against Crotone in the Stadio Adriatico Sunday and said he could hear a player being abused.
Asked how often incidents of racism happened in football, Muntari told CNN Sport: “Every game. I was sitting down [Sunday] and it was happening. There was a player playing and it was happening in the stands so how are we going to tackle this?
“This isn’t the first time it has happened. We talk about it and after maybe one week, two weeks it’s gone. Then, maybe after a month or two later, it happens somewhere and you get calls to talk about it and then it’s shut again.”
The footballer said he would be the “No.1” supporter of any organized player boycott in protest against racism.
He also said the political and economic climate in Europe had played a part in what he believed were increasing incidents of racism in the sport.
“Maybe sometimes it’s frustration, there’s no work, there’s no job,” he said. “Countries are taking a lot of people they aren’t used to. Things are changing, and maybe that’s