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Sulley Muntari falls victim to Italian footballing racism

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Former Portsmouth midfielder and FA Cup winner Sulley Muntari left the field of play this Sunday after being given a yellow card for protesting to the referee about a fan chanting racial abuse.

The 32-year-old former Ghana midfielder is now playing for Pescara's in the Serie A. The midfielder asked referee Daniele Minelli to stop the game at Cagliari. 

But instead, Muntari was booked in the 89th minute for dissent. Muntari left the pitch during play to show his frustration.

After the game, Muntari said: "The referee should not just stay on the field and blow the whistle, he must do everything. He should be aware of these things and set an example."

A similar event occurred when Muntari played for AC Milan, when former teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the pitch during a friendly with lower league side Pro Patria in January 2013.

Boateng was the first player to cause a game to be abandoned as his teammates followed his lead and left the pitch in the 26th minute.   

The news prompted a wave of support on social media. FIFA applauded Boateng's principles but said it did not condone his decision to walk off.

This latest scenario raises the question - is Italian football still grappling with issues of racism? 

This incident is not an isolated one. Former Italy and AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi infamously said: "There are too many black players, even in the youth teams."

Is fear over Italy's migrant crisis playing a part in re-igniting racist attitudes or is this a remnant of football's abusive sectarian past? It's unclear. What is clear is that this hurts the beautiful game.

The longer this issue goes without being properly tackled by FIFA and the Italian FA, the more it will hurt the reputations of Italian and global football. 

 

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