NZ Football: ‘We support players’ decision to refuse to finish Qatar match’

posted in: All Whites, News

Football’s national body says it’s behind the All Whites who refused to continue their game against Qatar after allegations that one of their players had been racially abused.

In a statement, New Zealand Football said:

“In the 40th minute of the New Zealand vs Qatar game today in Austria, a Qatari player used a racial slur towards All Whites defender Michael Boxall after a confrontation between the two players.

“The racial slur was heard by several New Zealand players, including Boxall.

“The players reported the incident, but no official action was taken.

“At half-time, with the All Whites leading 1-0 in the fixture, given that no official action was taken, the team collectively agreed that they would not continue with the match.”

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said:

“We fully support the action of our players, who agreed collectively this course of action.

“We never want to see a match abandoned but some issues are bigger than football and it is important to make a stand.

“There is no room for racism in football.”

Main photo: Andrew Pragnell … ‘we support the players’ action.’

Sports minister: ‘We need a longer-term solution’

Sports Minister Grant Robertson told his Tuesday media conference:

Grant Robertson.

“I can’t give you a blow-by-blow account, but I support the team and supporting their colleague and understanding after racism. That’s what we should all do.

“… the fact that they didn’t take the field and the second half, given our few opportunities, that yet really does show how serious this incident must have been for them. And, you know, they were looking after one of their colleagues and friends, and I think that’s important.”

Robertson referred to comments last week by FIFA president Gianni Infantino who said games should be stopped by referees, if necessary, to help stop racism.

“Stopping games in the middle is not ideal for anybody,” Robertson said.

“And so what we need here is a longer term solution where racism is stamped out before anyone even gets on the field.”

Robertson said he had not had chance to send a message to the New Zealand team but he wanted people to know “we strongly support a stance against racism.”

PFA extends support to All Whites

The New Zealand Professional Footballers’ Association has declared their support for the All Whites.

In a statement, the players’ union said: “NZPFA stands unequivocally with its players. We commend and support our players’ poised reaction in this challenging situation.

“We have contacted the team and will work with New Zealand Football to support the players in any way required. There is no room for racism in our sport.”

Boxall’s club sends message of support

Michael Boxall’s Minnesota United club sent their player a message of support via social media, tweeting:

“You’re a world-class member of our community and we are lucky to call you a leader at our club, Michael. We stand in full support of you and we can’t wait to welcome you back to Minnesota.”

READ MORE: Match abandoned as All Whites walk off in protest of Qatar racial abuse >>>>

WATCH: The incident that led to All Whites calling off game against Qatar >>>>

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