A soccer match between New Zealand and Qatar was abandoned at halftime on Monday after the New Zealand team refused to take to the pitch after the break in protest at an alleged racial slur made towards one of its players.
The New Zealand team said it refused to continue because defender Michael Boxall was racially abused by a Qatar player and no action was taken.
“Michael Boxall was racially abused during the first half of the game by a Qatari player,” New Zealand Football said in a statement on social media shortly after the abandonment. “No official action was taken so the team have agreed not to come out for the second half of the match.”
The Qatar Football Association issued a statement via social media announcing that New Zealand had withdrawn from the match but did not acknowledge New Zealand’s allegations.
“New Zealand has withdrawn from the friendly match against our national team which was being held today, 19 June 2023, in Austria, as part of Al Annabi’s preparations for the Gold Cup,” the Qatar FA said.
New Zealand was leading 1-0 when the match, which was being played at Generali-Arena in Wien, Austria, was abandoned.
In a statement on its website, New Zealand football said the alleged racial slur against Boxall, who is of Samoan heritage, was heard by several players.
“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 statement said.
“The players reported the incident, but no official action was taken.”
New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell also said in the statement: “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.”
Qatar manager Carlos Queiroz said that the incident occurred after “two players exchanged words” shortly before halftime.
“Who was first, who was second, it’s only between them,” Queiroz told Alkass Sports Channel.
“The New Zealand players, they decided to support their teammate. As is obvious, all our team decided to support our player. But the staff of New Zealand also, they supported the statement of the New Zealand player; we support our player.
“They decided to abandon the game with no witnesses … It’s just an argument between two players.”
Last week Real Madrid’s Vinícius Jr. was invited to take part in a FIFA anti-racism committee with players who will help suggest a course of action to deal with discriminatory behavior in football.
In a statement posted to social media, the world governing body’s president Gianni Infantino said that FIFA “will also strengthen the engagement with players on this crucial topic” adding that he was happy that “Vinícius accepted to be part of a task force which will include other important players and will elaborate concrete and efficient measures to end racism in football once and for all.”