Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari felt “angry and isolated. I was being treated like a criminal. How could I be punished when I was the victim of racism?”
The Ghana international received a yellow card for protesting at racist abuse from the stands during a 1-0 defeat to Cagliari, then walked off the pitch and received another booking.
He was given a one-match ban, which was revoked on appeal last night.
“I feel that someone has finally listened and heard me,” Muntari told the FIFPro website.
“The last few days have been very hard for me. I have felt angry and isolated. I was being treated like a criminal. How could I be punished when I was the victim of racism?
“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.”
FIFPro note that it was not Pescara who lodged the appeal against his ban, but Muntari himself and the Italian Players’ Association (AIC).
“Many people and organisations such as FIFPro and the UN supported me and I would like to thank everyone who assisted me.”
Cagliari were not punished for the incident, as the current rules stated that as “only around 10 people” in the crowd were making the racist chants, it wasn’t enough to warrant action.
This is also why the referee, Daniele Minelli, did not try to halt the game, nor order a warning over the loudspeaker.