MANCHESTER / ANKARA:
UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings in Tuesday’s Champions League match between Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir when the players withdrew to protest after the Turkish club accused a match official of racism.
The European football board said on Wednesday it had appointed an ethics and discipline inspector to “conduct a disciplinary investigation into the incident”.
A disciplinary investigation can lead to sanctions and match officials are covered by the UEFA disciplinary regulations which are regularly used to sanction clubs and players.
The incident was sparked when Basaksehir’s assistant coach Pierre Webo was given a red card for protesting a referee decision and the Turkish side then alleged that Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu used a racist term towards the Cameroonian.
Players from both teams left the pitch after around 10 minutes of talks with Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan, a first in European football. The match, which was suspended after 13 minutes, will end at 5:55 p.m. GMT on Wednesday with new referees.
Television footage showed the fourth official Coltescu saying in Romanian: “The black over there. Go see who he is. Black over there, it is not possible to act like that ‘after Webo vehemently protested against an arbitration decision.
“Why does he say nigger?” Basaksehir’s substitute Demba Ba asked match referee Hategan several times as confusion reigned on the sideline in the Group H match. The Romanian word for black is “negru”.
“The Romanian Football Federation stands firmly against any action or statement of a racist or xenophobic nature,” the federation (FRF) said in a statement, adding that it was waiting for the UEFA report “to find out exactly what is happening. ‘happened and act accordingly. ”
Reuters contacted the FRF for comment from officials but did not receive an immediate response.
“Racism and discrimination in all its forms have no place in football,” the governing body said in a statement.
Romanian Sports Minister Ionut Stroe apologized for the incident.
“We strongly condemn any statement which could be considered racist or discriminatory,” Stroe told Digi24 television.
“I apologize on behalf of Romanian sport for this unfortunate incident. It was an incident, it does not represent Romanian sport.
“The UEFA investigation will tell us what really happened and action will then be taken. I don’t think it will lead to a diplomatic scandal, we all condemn such an incident. Such unfortunate language will be punished.
“I want the use of language to be harmless or neutral, but we must not tolerate such behavior. We will have discussions on how we can fix this situation, ”he added.
Piara Powar, executive director of anti-racism campaign and monitoring group Fare, said: “This incident shows the need for better training of match officials. Unintentional racism is always racism. While officials cannot set the standards by their own behavior, they cannot be called upon to deal with racism on the pitch or in the stands. ”
Powar said the departure showed the mood of the players when it comes to racism issues.
“The departure of both Basaksehir and PSG is a milestone in Europe. Many players are fed up with half-measures to fight racism and are more prepared than ever to exercise their right to stop a game, ”he added.
The president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, congratulated the players for leaving the field.
“I would like to salute the attitude of the two teams who made a strong and exemplary decision when they left the field. These unacceptable incidents have no place in a stadium, ”he said.
Erdogan blames ‘racist tendency’ in France for UCL incident
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the racist incident during the Champions League soccer match between Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was a new expression of racist tendencies in France.
“This approach is unforgivable. Our determined position will continue. (…) France has become a country where racist rhetoric and actions are intensifying, ”Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara.
Istanbul players Basaksehir, closely followed by opponents Paris Saint-Germain, left the pitch in a Champions League soccer match on Tuesday after the Turkish club accused a Romanian official of racism on Tuesday . REUTERS