Muntari ban for protesting against abuse is overturned

Sulley Muntari is booked

Sulley Muntari has had spells with Portsmouth and Sunderland

Sulley Muntari has had the one-match ban he received after protesting against racist abuse overturned.

The Pescara midfielder left the field after being booked in Sunday’s Serie A game at Cagliari for complaining of being abused.

The Italian Football Federation said it had considered the “particular delicacy” of the case.

“I hope this is a turning point in Italy and shows what it means to stand up for your rights,” said Muntari, 32.

“I feel that someone has finally listened to me. The last few days have been very hard for me. I have felt angry and isolated.

“I was being treated like a criminal. How could I be punished when I was the victim of racism?

“I hope my case can help so that other footballers do not suffer like me.”

Muntari was initially booked for dissent, then received a second yellow card for leaving the field.

Serie A, although agreeing that the abuse Muntari received was “deplorable”, originally said that it could not impose sanctions on Cagliari because “approximately 10” supporters were involved – fewer than 1% of their supporters in the ground.

Ex-Tottenham striker Garth Crooks called on players in Italy to strike in protest against Muntari’s punishment.

Anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out said the ruling was “gutless”, while Crooks said: “I’m calling on players in Italy, black and white, to make it absolutely clear to the federation in Italy that their position is unacceptable, and if the decision is not reversed then they withdraw their services until it is.”

The 32-year-old former Portsmouth and Sunderland player will now be available for Pescara’s game at home to Crotone on Sunday.

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