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New Zealand Abandons Football Match Against Qatar Over Alleged Racial Abuse
- The friendly between New Zealand and Qatar was disrupted midway
- Defender Michael Boxall is believed to have been a victim of the racial slur
- FIFA recently reiterated its zero-tolerance approach to racism
New Zealand‘s friendly against Qatar in Austria took a disturbing turn on Monday when the team refused to appear for the second half after allegations of racial abuse toward defender Michael Boxall by an opponent.
Michael Boxall who has Samoan heritage, allegedly received racial abuse at the hands of a Qatari player.
As reported by Marca, forty minutes into the game, Qatari player Yousuf Abdurisag, approached Boxall before a free kick and surrounding New Zealand players became noticeably angry.
The Oceanian team dominated early on with the opening goal from Marko Stamenic on the 17-minute mark but did not return to the field after halftime.
"Michael Boxall was racially abused during the first half of the game by a Qatari player,"
wrote the New Zealand Federation via Twitter.
"No official action was taken so the team have agreed not to come out for the second half of the match."
There is currently no audible evidence of any slur and the New Zealand federation has yet to disclose what was said.
The New Zealand football chief executive Andrew Pragnell only said it was a "significant" slur while condemning the action. Quoted by The Guardian, Pragnell said:
"It was a significant racial slur and it has absolutely no place in the game."
Many All Whites players reportedly heard the remark, leading to them staging the protest. They intend to report the incident to FIFA's anti-racism task force.
Qatar football federation’s response
The Qatari Federation made no mention of the incident when announcing via its social networks that the New Zealand team would not return to the friendly match.
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"New Zealand has withdrawn from the friendly match against our national team which was being held today, 19 June 2023, in Austria, as part of Al Annabi's preparations for the Gold Cup," the Qatar federation tweeted.
FIFA President kicks against Racism
Sports Brief earlier reported that FIFA President, Gianni Infantino has expressed his stance against racism, in light of the recent event surrounding Vinicius Jr.
The Brazilian suffered racist chants from some Valencia supporters during a La Liga clash against Real Madrid, with the referee temporarily halting the game.
Infantino has now condemned the racist abuse against Vini and called for FIFA’s three-step process to be implemented in subsequent scenarios.