Kenya international football player McDonald Mariga has refuted claims that he squeezed a referee’s hand so hard that it drew blood in April.
Reports said: “Mariga, playing for Latina in Italy’s Serie B, was sent off in the 96th minute of their 1-0 home defeat against Virtus Entella on April 24. The former Inter midfielder then attempted to give the referee a handshake as he exited the field, but got a tiny bit carried away, gripping it so hard it caused an abrasion and drew blood.”
Mariga was handed a five-game ban following the incident.
The disciplinary commission’s report also said that the 29-year-old directed various insults towards the official after being shown the red card.
In an elaborate interview on Citizen Television’s Nipashe Wikendi hosted by Lulu Hassan on Friday, July 1, the former Parma and Real Sociedad player denied the reports.
“It is not true. The incident happened in a match where our player was tripped in the 18-yard box, but the referee refused to award a penalty kick against our opponents. Most players in my team rushed towards him in protest. I don’t know which player squeezed his hand. Nonetheless, he carded me. I did not even touch him,” Mariga said.
Some fans have insinuated that racism played a part in the issuance of the harsh penalty – speculations that have been fueled by the fact that the defensive midfielder says he has had racist chants made against him in the past.
“Racism was a common phenomenon in the past. However it has reduced significantly. I was, in more than one instant, booed for being black,” he said.
The football star is currently in Kenya for a brief holiday. Mariga played for Inter between 2010 and 2014 before signing on with Latina following a stint at Parma.