UEFA is to investigate Thursday’s Europa League match between Sparta Prague and Rangers; boos were audible whenever Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara touched the ball; it comes after Kamara was racially abused by Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela last season
By PA Media
UEFA has opened an investigation into events surrounding Rangers’ Europa League defeat against Sparta Prague last week.
European football’s governing body said that it was probing “potential discriminatory incidents” during last Thursday’s group-stage match.
Sparta fans were banned from the Letna Stadium following racist abuse of Monaco’s Aurelius Tchouameni in August, but around 10,000 schoolchildren were permitted to attend the 1-0 win over Rangers along with some accompanying adults.
The match was marred by the booing of Rangers’ black players, with Glen Kamara – who was on the receiving end of a racist slur from Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela in March – seemingly being targeted more vociferously than others.
A statement from UEFA said: “In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents allegedly occurring during the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League group-stage match between AC Sparta Praha and Rangers FC played on 30 September 2021.
“Information on this matter will be made available in due course.”
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar has labelled UEFA “a disgrace” for failing to act on racism, while Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has also called for harsher sanctions.
“There are hundreds of thousands and maybe more people frustrated because these things keep raising their head far too often,” Gerrard said on Friday.
“Unfortunately the punishment is not enough. I said last night there needs to be more done. It’s the only way it’s going to get eradicated because the punishments are nowhere near severe enough.”
Sparta have labelled the accusations of racism against their supporters as “unfounded… desperate and ridiculous”.
Meanwhile, the Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek has called on the Scottish Football Association to apologise for remarks made by the SFA’s equality advisor Marvin Bartley in the wake of the match.
In a tweet which included a photo of decaying strawberries, Bartley said: “The worst thing about the scenes in Prague last night is that I’m not shocked in the slightest!
“In no way is this the fault of the CHILDREN because they’re behaving in a way they see adults do/encourage.
“What chance do they have when placed in a bowl with rotten fruit.”
Kulhanek hit out at Bartley for his comments and revealed he had summoned the British Ambassador to relay his feelings to the SFA.
He said: “I understand that sports matches bring various emotions that can be transferred off the field.
“However, even that has its limits and must not grow into xenophobic insults aimed at minors.
“Therefore, I asked for an apology or a clear distance from the person who publicly uttered the comparison of Czech children to rotten fruit.
“I summoned the ambassador today to interpret my request to the Scottish Football Association.”