Sulley Muntari Banned: How Authorities Tackled Controversial Racial Abuse on Ghanaian Footballer

Despite calls for a severe disciplinary action against perpetrators of the alleged racist abuse meted out to the Ghanaian, Serie A’s disciplinary committee saw Sulley Muntari Banned, after concluding that the way he handle the issue was inappropriate.

Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari has been banned for one game after he protested against racist abuse. Serie A’s disciplinary committee added that no action would be taken against Cagliari over the incident. This is because although the chanting was considered deplorable, only an approximate number of 10 individuals were involved. According to the committee, this is not enough to warrant a punishment against the club under Serie A rules.

This comes after world football players’ union Fifpro had called for Muntari’s punishment to be rescinded. Fifpro who at the time was oblivious of the second punishment said “Muntari was well within his rights to approach the referee”, to make his grievances known and seek a solution.

Sulley Muntari banned for one match

Sulley Muntari walked off the pitch during his team’s clash with Cagliari, having been booked after reporting racist abuse to the referee. In the final minutes of the match, it happened that die hard fans of the Italian club booed the Ghanaian in the presence of the massive crowd for some vague reasons.

Sulley Muntari became extremely angry and complained to the referee Danielle Minelli, visible slapping his skin to make a point. His pleas for a disciplinary action against the abuse had however, fallen on deaf ears as the referee booked him for dissent. This had caused the Ghanaian to walk off the pitch in anger leaving his team to play out stoppage time with 10 men.

UN, Other Stakeholders’ Reaction to Racist Abuse

Mixed reactions followed the Ghana international’s controversial exit from the pitch, following the alleged racial abuse meted out on him during the Pescara vs Cagliari clash, with many stakeholders backing  Muntari’s action.

Sulley Muntari banned

Head of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein supported Pescara’s Sulley Muntari action. The Commissioner in a speech bemoaned the abuse as well as the trivialization of the act by officials of the match.

Al Hussein renewed calls for more awareness on the issue of human rights, which has been of a seemingly relegated concern in recent times. He also called for the reinforcement of disciplinary policies put in place for surveillance purposes in international football, as well as other sports.

Furthermore, Ghana international, Kevin-Prince Boateng has also backed Muntari’s action against the alleged racial abuse. It can be recalled that KP Boateng in January 2013, walked off the pitch following some racist chanting directed at him, during a friendly with Pro-Partia in January 2013.

Having been a victim of racial discrimination on the pitch himself, the Las Palmers defender expressed so much dissatisfaction regarding gross negligence on the part of the officials. Speaking with Sky Sports, Boateng insisted that referees owe it a duty to protect players from such abuses.

Disciplinary Measures

In Seria A, as well as other football leagues, it is expected that officials stop a game at the occurrence of racist abuse. This policy was implemented in August 2016, when a referee stopped a La Liga match following a discrimination of Ghana International Inaki Williams.

The match between home players Sporting Gijon and Athletic Blilbao was brought to a premature end at the 30th minute when Sporting fans started to hurl racist slurs at Williams.

But this was not the case at the Cagliari vs Pescara clash. Having claimed to have not heard the alleged insults directed at the Ghanaian, the referee Daniele Minelli, as well as other officials of the match, took no disciplinary measures after Muntari walked off the pitch. They instead turned around and punished the victim.