Sports

New Zealand Abandons Qatar Friendly At Half-time Over Alleged Racist Comment

New Zealand abandoned its football friendly against Qatar at halftime in Austria on Monday after accusing a Qatari player of making a racist comment to defender Michael Boxall.

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New Zealand abandoned its football friendly against Qatar at halftime in Austria on Monday after accusing a Qatari player of making a racist comment to defender Michael Boxall.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Football New Zealand said the team refused to play the second half when the referee declined to take action.

New Zealand was leading 1-0 in Ritzing.

The incident happened after Qatar was awarded a free kick. The New Zealanders complained Qatar’s Yousuf Abdurisag made a racist comment to Boxall, who is of Samoan heritage.

After a melee between the teams in the 40th minute, New Zealand captain Joe Bell complained to referee Manuel Schuttengruber, who shook his head, indicating he would not take action against the Qatar player.

“We fully support the action of our players, who agreed collectively this course of action,” New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said in a statement. “We never want to see a match abandoned but some issues are bigger than football and it is important to make a stand.”

Qatar coach Carlos Queiroz said on the television broadcast of the match that he had not heard the comment.

“The facts are the following. Apparently two players on the pitch exchanged words,” Queiroz said. “The New Zealand players decided to support their teammate just as our team decided to support our player.

“They decided to abandon the game with no witnesses. The referee did not listen (to what was said). It’s just an argument between two players.

“It’s a new chapter in football which is, for sure, something nobody can understand. Let’s let the football authorities make a decision. This game will be under observation from FIFA for sure.”

The New Zealand Professional Footballers’ Association said it stood by the New Zealand players.

“We have contacted the team and will work with NZ Football to support the players in any way required,” the NZPFA said. “There is no room for racism in our sport.”

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