New Zealand’s football friendly against Qatar has descended into utter chaos, with All Whites defender Michael Boxall alleging racial abuse and inaction by game day officials.
The All Whites took the extraordinary step of refusing to come back out at halftime of a game they led 1-0.
NZ Football (NZF) put a short statement on its social media channels shortly after their protest.
‘Michael Boxall was racially abused during the first half of the game by a Qatari player,’ it read.
‘No official action was taken so the team have agreed not to come out for the second half of the match.’
New Zealand’s football friendly with Qatar descended into chaos, with All Whites defender Michael Boxall (pictured left) alleging racial abuse from Yusuf Abdurisag (right) and inaction by gameday officials
Boxall, 34, is of Kiwi and Samoan heritage and plays his club football for Minnesota United in the US
Socceroos legend Tim Cahill was caught up in the drama on the Qatar touchline as he worked as one of coach Carlos Queiroz’s assistants.
The flashpoint came after a free kick late in the first half, following a foul on Qatar’s Yusuf Abdurisag.
Abdurisag then allegedly made comments to Boxall which caused several All Whites, including Boxall, to remonstrate with the player and the referee.
The friendly was played at Sonnenseestadion, in Ritizing in Austria, and officiated by Austrian referee Manuel Schuttengruber.
Captain Joe Bell was seen remonstrating with Schuttengruber as they left the field for halftime, when the All Whites made the decision not to return.
The broadcast did not capture the comments, which players and NZ Football have chosen not to share.
NZF chief executive Andrew Pragnell said the All Whites should be proud of their actions.
‘It was a unified decision by the entire planning group. They were resolute and adamant about it,’ he said.
Boxall (pictured, playing the Socceroos in 2022) has also represented Wellington Phoenix in the A-League
‘They are a values-based group of players who we are really proud of.’
Pragnell added NZ Football would ‘proactively’ take up the matter with FIFA.
‘It’s a significant incident, both in terms of the racial abuse and the impact that had on our team,’ he said.
New Zealand led the match through Marko Stamenic’s 17th-minute strike.
Commentator and former All Whites goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley said Boxall, the captain of MLS side Minnesota United, was ‘a man of huge integrity, of tolerance and patience’.
‘To garnish this reaction from him really did raise my eyebrows. To hear the details of the allegations that are being made by this All Whites team, I can completely understand why this action has been taken,’ he said.
Boxall is of Kiwi and Samoan heritage.
Boxall had the backing of his All Whites teammates, who refused to play the second half against Qatar following the alleged on-field racial slur
Qatar’s coach Quieroz closed ranks around his team shortly after the abandonment, saying it was ‘something that nobody can understand’.
‘Apparently two players on the pitch they exchanged words … the New Zealand players, they decided to support his teammate as it is obvious all our team decided to support our player,’ he said.
‘I think this case will be under the observation of FIFA for sure.’
The NZ government and Kiwi players union (NZPFA) also gave their support.
‘NZPFA stands unequivocally with its players. We commend and support our players’ poised reaction in this challenging situation,’ the NZPFA tweeted.
‘There is no room for racism in our sport.’