Football: New Zealand Football hopes All Whites' stand can help FIFA tackle racism issue

The chief executive of New Zealand Football hopes the actions of the All Whites can play a part in helping FIFA address the huge problem of racism in the game

On Tuesday morning, the All Whites refused to play the second half of their friendly match against Qatar after defender Michael Boxall was racially abused.

The scenes that played out in Austria leave it up to world governing body FIFA to act on a pledge they made just four days ago.

The All Whites react to a racial slur against defender Michael Boxall.
The All Whites react to a racial slur against defender Michael Boxall. Photo credit: Photosport

The reaction from the players said it all, the All Whites saw red and refused to play the second half, taking a stand against the racist slur directed at Boxall.

"On a personal level, I've known Michael Boxall for over twenty years," New Zealand Football Players Association general manager Jacob Spoonley told Newshub.

"He's a warrior of a player, a person of massive integrity. He's an individual of huge tolerance.

"So to see him reacting like this, I just wish I could have been there and stood with those players in Vienna - and supported my friend."

Unfortunately this racist incident isn't an isolated one.

"I think, ultimately, football has a big problem," NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell told Newshub.

Also abandoned on Tuesday, was Republic of Ireland Under-21s' friendly with Kuwait after an alleged racist remark.

Just last month, Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr was subjected to racism from the crowd in Spain.

Four days ago FIFA president Gianni Infantino met with the Brazilian star, and asked him to lead a special anti-racism committee.

"There's a racism task force, recently established by FIFA," continued Pragnell. "We'd love to be able to contribute to that and share our experiences."

At the same time, Infantino met with Vinicius, FIFA's president said there needs to be a zero tolerante to racism, and referees at all levels must stop matches if such incidents occur.

The NZFPA is frustrated that despite the All Whites' best attempts, the referee on Tuesday did not do that.

"What we want now is for action to be taken, for matters to be investigated, and for those to have been found guilty of making racial slurs on the football field to be held to account," added Spoonley.

It's hoped the All Whites can play a small part in addressing a big problem in football.

There is a possibility FIFA decide to fine the All Whites and New Zealand Football for not playing the second half on Tuesday.

Conversely, the Qatari Football Federation could ask New Zealand Football for reimbursement of the funds they've put forward for the match in Vienna to be played.

However, New Zealand Football told Newshub it's too soon to know what - if any - sanctions await them, with clarity expected in the coming days.