ROME, Italy, May 6 – Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari says he was “treated like a criminal” after he complained he was being racially abused in a Serie A match and given a one-game ban.
The 32-year-old Ghanaian is now free to play in Sunday’s home game against Crotone after the ban was rescinded on appeal.
He was sanctioned for walking off just before the end of last Sunday’s game at Cagliari in protest at the abuse, having been booked by the referee for complaining about it.
His decision to walk off earned him a second yellow card and consequent one-game ban from the Italian football federation — a punishment that was met with astonishment by many.
Muntari, previously with AC Milan and Inter Milan, said after the ban was overturned on Friday: “I feel that someone has finally listened and heard me.
“The last few days have been very hard for me. I have felt angry and isolated,” he said in a statement issued by the international professional players’ association FIFPro.
“I was being treated like a criminal. How could I be punished when I was the victim of racism?”
There were no sanctions for Cagliari, however, the league ruling that the racist chanting came from “about 10 people, or less than one percent of the sector” of the stadium.
Muntari added: “I hope my case can help so that other footballers do not suffer like me. I hope it can be a turning point in Italy and show the world what it means to stand up for your rights.
“This is an important victory to send a message that there’s no place for racism in football, or society in general.”