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FOOTBALL

Pescara player walks off pitch in protest over ‘racist chants’

Ghana's Sulley Muntari dramatically walked off the pitch while playing for Pescara at Cagliari on Sunday after his complaints of racist abuse were met with a yellow card.

Pescara player walks off pitch in protest over 'racist chants'
Pescara's Sulley Muntari (left) during a previous Serie A match. File photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The former AC Milan and Inter midfielder, who claimed the abuse also came from children, angrily confronted Cagliari fans, shouting at them: “This is my colour.”

Muntari, 32, could now face disciplinary measures after deciding to leave the field seconds before full-time – a decision that earned him a second yellow card, and then a red, from referee Daniele Minelli.

Earlier, he had spoken directly with a section of the Cagliari supporters targeting him with racist abuse.

“They shouted at me from the beginning of the game, and in the first half I saw children in the group, so I went to their parents and gave them my jersey to set an example and to say you are not supposed to do that,” he said.

“I tried to reason with them but the referee told me I had to stop. That's when I got pissed off. Why did he not stop the match?

“I am not a victim, but I am convinced that if they stopped the matches, this kind of thing would not happen any more.”

While leaving the pitch in frustration and murmuring “Basta ! (Enough)”, Muntari went to address more supporters, showing them his arm and shouting: “this is my colour, this is my colour.”

His protest was later backed by Pescara coach Zdenek Zeman, although in comments to Sky Sport the Czech veteran said Muntari should not have quit the game.

“He asked the referee to intervene, but he (said he had) neither heard nor seen anything,” Zeman said. “Muntari was right, but he shouldn't have left the pitch.”

Muntari was at AC Milan when former teammate Kevin Prince Boateng angrily walked off the pitch while being targeted with racist abuse during a friendly with lower league side Pro Patria in January 2013.

It prompted a wave of support on social media, although football's ruling body FIFA, while applauding Boateng's principles, said it did not condone his decision to walk off.

FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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