NZ and Irish U-21s refuse to play on after racist abuse from Qatari and Kuwaiti players

June 20 – In an unprecedented day of international action and following Gianni Infantino’s recent call to stop play in case of discrimination, New Zealand and Ireland’s U-21 team abandoned matches after allegedly facing racist abuse by Qatari and Kuwaiti opponents. 

In Ritzing, Austria, the All Whites refused to continue their friendly match against Qatar after an alleged racist remark directed at defender Michael Boxall.

NZ Football 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 have agreed not to come out for the second half of the match.”

The Qatar FA (QFA) said on its Twitter feed that New Zealand had withdrawn from the friendly without giving any further details.

The incident happened shortly before half-time as the match served as a warm-up for Qatar for the Gold Cup in the United States.

The U-21 match between Ireland and Kuwait in Austria as well was abandoned in the second half with the Irish leading 3-0.

The FAI posted on Twitter: “The FAI regrets to announce that today’s U21 international against Kuwait has been abandoned after a racist remark was made by a Kuwaiti player towards one of our substitutes.

“The FAI does not tolerate any racism towards any of our players or staff and will be reporting this serious matter to FIFA and UEFA.”

Last week on the sidelines of Brazil’s training camp in Barcelona, FIFA president Gianni Infantino resurrected a committee at the world federation to combat racism seven years after he had dissolved FIFA’s anti-racism task force claiming its work was done.

Infantino said that football could not go on when there was discrimination. “There is no football if there is racism! So let’s stop the games,” said the FIFA boss in a statement.

“The referees have this opportunity in FIFA competitions as we have this process for stopping the game, and actions have to be taken at every level, at national level as well. Everyone has to understand this and we will go, together, until the end.”

Brazil’s Vinicius Jr., who has faced racism abuse repeatedly in Spain while playing for Real Madrid, will head the anti-racism committee.

Neither FIFA or UEFA has made comment on the incidents in Austria.

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