Sulley Muntari, a Ghanian national team midfielder with Pescara, was bombarded with racist comments at Sunday's Serie A away match against Cagliari. When Muntari went to the ref to request that the match be stopped in the second half, the ref booked Muntari with a yellow card for dissent. Muntari then walked off in protest, and received a second yellow card, resulting in a one-match ban. Today, the ban was overturned by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in an appeal by Fifpro, the world football players' union, according to Fifpro's Twitter account.
The reversal marks a victory for Muntari in a dispute that many say should not have even happened. Italian soccer culture is rife with racism, and officials' unwillingness to take action Sunday was consistent with an institution that has long turned a blind eye. In fact, the Serie A disciplinary committee dismissed the racial abuse of Muntari as marginal, claiming that it only "approximately 10 supporters and therefore less than 1 percent of the number of occupants" (translation via Google Translate), thus claiming that Muntari's claim didn't meet the minimal number to impose sanctions against Cagliari.
Fifpro then stepped in on Tuesday to ask that Muntari's punishment be reversed, saying in a statement,
Muntari was well within his rights to approach referee Daniele Minelli, as the first point of reference, to make his grievances known and seek a solution.
Players should feel comfortable bringing any issue to the attention of the referee, especially one as significant as allegations of racism in the workplace.
Muntari's ban sparked outrage, as several black players threatened to go on strike in protest of the league's ruling, called to action by former Tottenham striker Garth Crooks.
Muntari claimed that he tried to defuse the racial abuse from fans in the first half, but to no avail. He even told reporters that he went up to a young supporter in the group of his abusers and offered the child his shirt "to teach him you're not supposed to do things like that."