Garth Crooks has accused Pescara of failing to sufficiently support Sulley Muntari and has called on all players in Italy, irrespective of colour, to go on strike in protest at the midfielder’s suspension.
Former Tottenham striker Crooks is aghast that Muntari must serve a one-match ban after protesting against alleged racial abuse from fans during the Serie A game at Cagliari on Sunday.
Muntari, who has had spells with Portsmouth and Sunderland, was cautioned for dissent after asking the referee to stop the match, and then walked off the pitch which earned him a second yellow card.
Crooks has questioned why Muntari’s team-mates have remained silent on the issue and believes coach Zdenek Zeman’s remarks that he hopes “mentalities will change” with respect to racism was nothing more than a token gesture.
He had earlier called for all black players in Italy to withdraw their services in the next round of Serie A fixtures through anti-discrimination organisation Kick it Out, of which he is a trustee.
But now he is calling for every single player to stand down in a show of solidarity with Muntari.
Crooks said: “I think it’s quite shameful no-one from the professional game is screaming about this. This is not just about black players. We’ve moved on from that. This is about players. And I’m also a little alarmed that Sulley Muntari’s team-mates have not become involved in this.
“His manager’s not said more. He’s said something, but quite frankly what he’s said is completely inadequate as far as I’m concerned. It’s about addressing racism together as black players and white players. Because that’s the only way we’re going to get past this problem in football.
“I’m calling for players in Italy, black and white, to make it absolutely clear to the federation in Italy that their position is unacceptable and if the decision is not reversed then they withdraw their services until it is.”
Crooks is dismayed that Fifa has kept quiet on the issue, while he hit out at the Italian authorities, which levelled the sanction on Muntari but absolved Cagliari, saying the measures “protect the racists from the players”.
A statement on Serie A’s official website confirmed authorities had made the decision “not to take sanctioning measures against Cagliari”.
The statement, published on www.legaseriea.it, claimed “only 10 supporters, and therefore less than one per cent” of fans were directly involved in the incident.
Speaking to Italian television after the match, Muntari said he had been abused by a group of fans in the first half but had tried to defuse the situation by giving one of the group, a child, his shirt “to teach him you’re not supposed to do things like that”.
The Ghanaian said the abuse continued in the second half so he tried to speak to the referee.
“I told him he should have had the courage to stop the game. The referee’s not just there to stand on the pitch and blow his whistle – he has to manage everything. He should also listen out for that kind of thing and set an example.”