Sulley Muntari: Italian FA may be disciplined by Fifa over handling of racism claims

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Uefa not addressing 'serious issue' of racism

Italian football authorities may face disciplinary action over the treatment of Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari.

Muntari, 32, was sent off after leaving the field claiming he was racially abused during a Serie A game.

He was initially banned for one game but had this overturned by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

"We have a committee in charge of monitoring this and the committee will take action," Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura told BBC Sport.

"What matters is that the committee has to act and the sooner the better.

"I have my personal feelings on anybody that is treated like he has been treated, on the pitch and off the pitch but I'm not here for my personal matters. I'm here to make sure that Fifa takes, through the committee, the appropriate action for any single discriminatory action."

On Tuesday, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said he would speak to ex-Portsmouth player Muntari, who believes world football's governing body, and European equivalent Uefa are "not taking racism seriously".

"We will work together," said Infantino, who also said he intends to talk to the head of FIGC, Carlo Tavecchio.

"Unfortunately idiots, there are always idiots everywhere but we have to fight them. We have to work on the people."

Fifa was criticised for disbanding its anti-racism task force last September.

The organisation defended this decision at the time, with Samoura then saying that it had fulfilled the "mandate" for which it was set up in 2013 - which was to provide recommendations for a "strong programme" to tackle racism.

A number of these have been put into action, including the introduction of an Anti-Discrimination Monitoring System to assess 850 high-risk matches for potential discriminatory incidents during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and friendlies.

Sulley Muntari is booked
Sulley Muntari has also played for Portsmouth, Sunderland and Inter Milan

Speaking before this week's Fifa congress meeting in Bahrain, Samoura adopted a different stance to Infantino, saying: "I don't have to call people anytime that they have been victim of an abuse."

She continued: "We've been regularly publicising the action of the committee on every action that relates to racism, homophobic chants and any kind of discrimination.

"We have monitoring too on anti-discrimination. We have heavy sanctions every time we have been receiving reports."

At the weekend, Juventus' Morocco defender Medhi Benatia cut short a post-match television interview on Sunday after claiming to hear a racist insult in his earpiece.

On Monday, Boca Junior player Frank Fabra reportedly left the pitch in tears after receiving racist abuse during his side's match with Estudiantes.

La Nation says that the Boca players approached the referee to halt the game but he deemed the insults to be isolated.

Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Does Fifa talk a good game, but not really care when it come to fighting racism, as Sulley Muntari suggested in his hard-hitting interview with my colleague David Ornstein in Milan this week?

Those working to eradicate discrimination from football believe the sport is slowly heading in the right direction, with heftier sanctions, regular initiatives, and better monitoring, despite the abolition of Fifa's anti-racism task force last year.

But as this case proves, there are still failings, especially in South America, Eastern Europe, and in Russia, where Fifa in their wisdom will stage the next World Cup. 2022 hosts Qatar meanwhile, have the death penalty for homosexual acts. Yet Fifa remains silent, and has not changed its regulations since 2013, something which frustrates campaigners.

Despite pressure from groups like Fifpro and Fare, Fifa prefers a 'hands-off' approach when it comes to dealing with national associations, hence their statement last week that the Muntari issue was a matter for the Italian authorities.

The implied threat from secretary general Fatma Samoura that the Italians may now be punished should therefore be viewed sceptically. There has been a spate of similar cases in recent years, with players suspended for leaving the field and making a stand against racism, and Fifa has been notoriously reluctant to get involved.

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