Michael Boxall, a 34-year-old defender from New Zealand, expressed his pride in his teammates’ choice to halt the international friendly against Qatar. This decision was made after Boxall reported being targeted with a racial insult during the match held in Austria.
The New Zealand team, known as the All Whites, refused to continue playing in the second half following the alleged racist comment made by Qatar winger Yousuf Abdurisag, which occurred five minutes before halftime.
“It’s one of those things, I’m pretty competitive and I say a lot of things that I wouldn’t want my kids to hear, but that’s certainly crossing the line,” Boxall, who is of Samoan heritage and plays for MLS side Minnesota United, told the Star Tribune.
“It’s not something I’d ever say. I didn’t really take great offence to it, but I think it’s one of those things you can’t allow on a football field.”
“I’m sure it’s a slur he uses colloquially every day, but when it’s directed at another player on the field, you can’t get away with that.
“It’s not something I take personally. I’m proud of my team-mates for taking the stand they did.”
After the incident, New Zealand Football stated their intention to bring up the issue with FIFA, the governing body of the game. The Qatar Football Association refuted claims that Abdurisag used discriminatory language, stating that the exchange of words occurred in the heat of the moment and that he was actually the target of racial slurs.
“I’ve moved on and I’m ready to get back to work,” Boxall said of the incident.
“We’ve taken that stand, and now it’s out of our control and just let the powers that be sort everything out now.”