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Qatar, Kuwait deny racism claims in international friendlies
Qatar and Kuwait's football federations on Tuesday denied allegations of racial abuse of rival players a day after their matches against New Zealand and Ireland were abandoned.
New Zealand did not return for the second half of Monday's international in Austria while leading 1-0, claiming Michael Boxall was racially abused by a Qatari opponent.
"No official action was taken so the team have agreed not to come out for the second half of the match," the New Zealand football federation tweeted.
On Tuesday, the Qatari federation denied forward Yusuf Abdurisag had made any racist comments, insisting he himself had been the victim of discriminatory remarks.
Abdurisag "confirmed an exchange of words with an opponent in the heat of the moment" but maintained he uttered "no insulting or discriminatory remarks", the Qatari federation said in a statement.
"On the contrary, he was the victim of racist remarks during the match," the statement added.
Qatar's Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz said he was "surprised" by the New Zealanders' decision, saying there had been no witnesses and that it was "just an argument between two players".
Kuwait also rejected claims the match between their Olympic team and Ireland's under-21s had been abandoned because of alleged racist abuse by one of their players.
The match, in Bad Radkersburg, Austria, was abandoned in the second half.
"The Kuwait Football Association condemns the announcement made by the Irish Football Association through its official Twitter account, regarding the alleged racism directed towards one of their players during the friendly match between Kuwait Olympic Team and the Irish team," said a statement.
"Kuwait Football Association confirms that the circulated news is false, and it categorically rejects such accusations, especially considering the match did not reach completion due to excessive roughness and tension between the players."
"The match was stopped by the referee in the 70th minute in order to protect the players from potential injuries," it added.
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On Monday, the FAI issued a statement on Twitter saying racism was the reason.
"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 posted.
"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."
Irish media reported that the alleged victim was Queens Park Rangers forward Sinclair Armstrong.
"Kuwait FA emphasises its full commitment to sportsmanship and encourages the promotion of complete respect. It rejects and confronts all forms of discrimination, inequality and racism," said the Kuwaiti response.
"Kuwait FA also affirms that all players representing the Kuwaiti national teams are characterised by commitment, discipline, good manners, and exemplary behaviour. None of them are allowed to act improperly towards any other party."