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Recent Racism in Soccer

Multiple international soccer games were abandoned mid-game in Austria on Monday after separate instances of racism.

“Two international matches abandoned due to racial abuse in one evening tells us something about the way in which young players are no longer prepared to tolerate racism on the pitch,” Piara Powar, Fare executive director, said Tuesday in a statement

Michael Boxall, a defender for New Zealand who is of Samoan origin, allegedly experienced racial abuse by an opponent, Yusuf Abdurisag, during a friendly game against Qatar. The team refused to play the second half after the incident despite leading the game 1-0 at the time. 

Several took to the internet in support of Boxall and validated his experience considering how many similar instances have happened recently. Abdurisag is claiming to be a victim of racial abuse himself. 

The Qatar Football Association is standing behind their player. 

“Everyone at QFA stands with Yusuf Abdurisag Yusuf and strongly condemns the unwarranted attention he has received in the past 24 hours,” H.E. Jassim bin Rashid Al Buenain, President of the QFA, said in a tweet

The same day, Ireland’s under-21 team abandoned a game after a Kuwaiti player made a “racist remark” against an Irish substitute. The match was stopped in the 70th minute and Ireland was leading 3-0. Ireland’s football association (FAI) has called out the actions of the Kuwaiti player who made the comment.

"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," the FAI said on social media.

Kuwait’s football association stated on social media that it “categorically rejects such accusations.”

Players and fans alike are calling out instances of racism happening across the sport. A recent incident that sparked debate involved Brazilian player Vinicius Junior and the racism he experienced during one LaLiga match in particular where he called out racist fans in the stands. He has experienced many racist instances during his time at Real Madrid with little help or support from referees and organizers. 

The lack of action has caused FIFA President Gianni Infantino to create a coalition to tackle discrimination in the sport. Vinicius is one of the many players who met with Infantino on Friday to discuss a plan that will “elaborate [on] concrete and efficient measures to end racism in football once and for all.”

“It’s a football-related problem and we mustn’t look for excuses like: ‘It’s society’s problem, therefore, it’s fine in football.’ In the world of football, we must act in a very forceful way,” Infantino said.

Racism in soccer is not a new issue but it is being newly discussed and actions taken are holding everyone, including fans, players, organizers, and all staff accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

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