Italian football’s reputation around the world has been damaged by the Sulley Muntari affair, the Italian Football Federation’s anti-racism advisor says.
Fiona May said the decision to uphold the Pescara midfielder’s punishment for protesting against racism while taking no action against fans had “sent a bad message”.
She added she would strike in protest if she were a player.
“I’m frustrated and shocked,” May said.
BBC football pundit Garth Crooks – a trustee of anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out – has called for Italy’s players to go on strike in protest at Muntari’s treatment and the the lack of punishment for the fans responsible.
And the British-born former Olympic athlete May, who was hired by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in 2014, said: “If it was me, I would do that, if I wasn’t part of the Federation, to say ‘wait a minute, what’s going on here?’
“I would say all players should consider it, to show solidarity,” she told the BBC World Service World Football show – though she stressed she was speaking hypothetically.
Muntari was booked for complaining to the referee about abuse he received from some Cagliari fans and received a second yellow card for leaving the pitch without permission.
A Serie A disciplinary committee upheld his punishment but said it could not punish the fans as only “approximately 10” were involved in the racist chants – not enough to trigger action under its own guidelines.
May said the panel was wrong to follow its guidelines so strictly in this case and asked: “You can’t put a number on how somebody can abuse a player on the pitch. How can somebody put a number on it?
“They shouldn’t have said that. It doesn’t matter if it is just was one person or 100 people in a stand, it doesn’t matter, they shouldn’t be doing racist chants full stop.”
She was also critical of referee Daniele Minelli, and said he should have “stopped the game and listened”.
May added: “Football is a global sport and I said to the FIGC president ‘this is not helping the image of Italian football whatsoever’.
“My mother in England phoned me up and said ‘what’s going on over there?'”