Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari says he left the Serie A match against Cagliari after the referee failed to take action to halt alleged racist chanting from the stands.
Muntari was booked late in his team’s 1-0 loss at Stadio Sant’Elia, apparently for dissent after confronting the match official.
The former Ghana international, who responded by walking off before the final whistle, has since claimed his premature departure was an act of protest following his perceived mistreatment at the hands of sections of the home crowd.
“They were chanting against me from the start, then in the first half I saw in the group there were some children and the parents said nothing,” Muntari is quoted as saying by Sky Sport Italia.
“So I turned to the parents and gave them my jersey, to set the example. In the Curva, the issue continued with another group of fans.
“I was trying to reason with them, but the referee told me to leave them alone. That’s when I got angry. Because rather than stop the game, he decided to punish me?
“The fans were wrong, but the referee had to act differently, not accuse me of causing trouble. I am the victim here. If the officials begin actually stopping games when this happens, I am convinced it won’t happen again.”
— Pescara Calcio (@PescaraCalcio) April 30, 2017
Pescara coach Zdenek Zeman agreed with his player’s interpretation of the events.
“Muntari heard racist chants and asked the referee to intervene,” he said. “There is so much talk about what we should do, but then we do nothing and shrug it off.
“Muntari left us down to 10 men, he left of his own volition when we could’ve still had our say in the final minutes. The Cagliari fans constantly hurled racist chants at him and he asked the referee to intervene.
“Sulley therefore decided to leave in protest.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Roma director Frederic Massara claimed defender Antonio Rudiger, sent off late in the 3-1 derby defeat to Lazio, had also been subject to abuse.
“I’d like to say that today he was very angry with the racist chanting we had to put up with,” he said.
“It’s a shame you still hear these things.”