Sulley Muntari believes Russia’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals is an opportunity to introduce diversity to sections of their population.
The Ghana international has been at the centre of a racial storm in Italy after he was abused by fans of Cagliari two weeks ago while playing for Pescara in the Serie A.
“I think it is a good thing that Russia is going to host the next World Cup,” said Muntari.
“They will show that maybe all Russians aren’t racist. The world will see another part of Russia, and Russia will see another part of the world. They will mingle with different kind of people, different kinds of states.”
Other players including Brazilian forward Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, better known as Hulk, Ghanaian Emmanuel Frimpong and former Brazil great Roberto Carlos — who twice had bananas brandished at him in 2011 — have complained about facing racial abuse in Russia.
Football watchdog FARE Network documented over 200 cases of racism in Russian football in a 2015 report.
Alexei Sorokin, the head of the body organizing the 2018 tournament, told FIFA’s congress that Russia will do its best “to ensure that every fan that comes is welcomed and has an unforgettable experience.”
Sorokin added: “Watch great football, in a big, hospitable, culturally multi-faceted country.”
Despite the closing of its anti-racism task force in September, FIFA insists that its work is not done.
“FIFA’s position on any form of discrimination is unequivocal: There is no place for racism or for any form of discrimination in football, as clearly described in the FIFA Statutes,” it said in a statement.
FIFA has also defended its selection of Russia, while appealing for all players to participate.
“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems,” it said in a 2014 statement.
“We can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.”
Muntari appears to agree.
“FIFA has done well, because you can’t run from your problems. You have to tackle (them),” he says.
“I have no doubt that the World Cup there is going to be amazing, and is going to bring a lot of people together, and peace.”
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