Controversial Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Ali Muntari found himself on the receiving end of unpleasant fans’ behavior over the weekend as his team AC Milan faced off with Serie A side Hellas Verona.
Fans of Verona, who were playing at home attacked Muntari with racist chants, yelling “Monkey” anytime they had the chance. The Serie A disciplinary tribunal has subsequently fined the club €50,000 ($63,000) and ordered it to close part of their stadium for their next home match.
According to the tribunal, an estimated 3,000 of the 5,000 fans in Verona’s Curva Sud stadium took part in the chanting, which was “clearly heard in other parts of the stadium“, whenever Muntari had possession of the ball.
“Such behavior is a clear example of discrimination because of race,” the tribunal observed, but the club has denied the allegation.
“We believe that the television pictures are sufficient to refute categorically the biggest non-truth which, today, has been aimed at our glorious club and our glorious fans,” a Verona release stated.
“In over 110 years of history, nobody has ever dared to say anything like this about us. No fan, no representative of the police, nor the Milan club, nor the player Sulley Muntari, or media present at the stadium on the day of the day … spoke of such an incident, leaving our club even more perplexed and angry about the action taken.”
AC Milan went on to win the game 3-1. Other Africans and players of color have fallen victim to racial abuse during games in the Serie A. Muntari’s former club and national side teammate Kevin Prince Boateng once walked off the field under similar circumstances.