The Qatari national team player also doubled down against racism in football, describing it as “a major problem that should never be trivialised.
Qatar’s Yusuf Abdurisag has denied accusations that he used a racial slur against an opponent at a New Zealand friendly, confirming he was in fact the victim of racism.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Qatari national team player clarified details surrounding the controversial incident, amid mass criticism across Western media.
“During last night’s game, I was the target of racist abuse from a member of the opposing team. To my complete shock, that same player accused me of using offensive language and the game was abandoned,” the statement read.
“During my travels around the world as a footballer I have experienced racist abuse, but never have I been both a victim and the accused in the same incident,” he added.
“It’s true that players often say things to each other in the heat of the moment, but there is a clear line that I have never crossed. From personal experience, I know the impact that hateful words can have on people and their families. It’s ridiculous to suggest that I would use those words against anyone else.”
The Qatari national team player also doubled down against racism in football, describing it as “a major problem that should never be trivialised or taken lightly. False accusations, like those I faced yesterday, only serve to weaken the ongoing fight against racism in football,” he added.
Qatar’s Carlos Queiroz side was left bewildered after New Zealand abandoned their friendly over allegations that Abdurisag reportedly racially abused his opponent during the game, sparking debates and questions online.
However, a video of the incident that was widely shared online failed to show whether any racist action or word was said, however it did show an apparent heated moment between Qatar’s Yousuf Abdurisag – who is of African descent – and New Zealand’s Boxall in the 40th minute.
In the clip, an animated Max Mata is seen to react to something said by Abdurisag as he stood up. The Kiwi player appears to say “ref, he can’t say that ref.”
Shortly after, Abdurisag can be seen saying “watch your mouth” to the Kiwi player.
“In the 40th minute of the New Zealand vs. Qatar game today in Austria, a Qatari player used a racial slur towards All Whites defender Michael Boxall after a confrontation between the two players,” New Zealand Football (NZF) claimed in a statement after the game.
In a statement shared shortly after Abdurisag’s clarification, Qatar Football Association said it stands behind its player.
“QFA’s player Yusuf Abdurisag Yusuf confirmed an exchange of words with an opponent – in the heat of the moment – shortly before half-time. Yusuf stressed that no racial or discriminatory language was used or directed towards any player of the New Zealand team,” the statement read.
“In the contrary, Yusuf stressed that, in fact, he himself was racially abused during the match. In any case, the QFA takes the allegations incredibly seriously and stands against racism in all its forms. The experience of racism should never be trivialised and remains a serious problem within the game. As such, the QFA encourages the international football community to do more to tackle racism and discrimination on and off the pitch,” it added.
The friendly was the last match before Qatar’s CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign begins.
The 2022 World Cup hosts were invited as a guest team and will face off against teams from North America, South America, and the Caribbean for the second time at the competition.