A major European soccer clash was abandoned only 13 minutes into the game after an assistant coach for one of the teams accused a Romanian official of using a racial term against him.
Soccer clubs Paris Saint-Germain(PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir were nearing the halfway point of their first-half UEFA Champions League match when Istanbul’s assistant coach Pierre Webo, who is Cameroonian by descent, accused Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu of using a racist term against him. Webo and Coltescu came face to face before match official Ovidiu Hategan, also of Romania, showed Webo a red card.
Video of the confrontation showed Webo repeatedly asking why Coltescu called him a “negro.”
Racism is a sickness
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Basaksehir forward Demba Ba asked to know why Coltescu had allegedly used the term, nothing that the officials wouldn’t use similar language toward a white player.
“You never say, ‘This white guy.’ You say, ‘This guy,’ so why when you mention a black guy you have to say, ‘This black guy’?” Ba said as match officials surrounded him.
Speaking on the UEFA Champions League Post show, former Manchester City defender Micah Richards, who is black, said that from the video, he believes it could have been a misunderstanding between cultures, noting that the Romanian official might have used a phrase common to his country.
“Without knowing the context in which a word was used, it’s very difficult to jump on either bandwagon,” Richards said. “I think, the players, for them not to come out, and both teams stand together, it might have been something more than that, but from the evidence we’ve seen there, it’s very difficult for me to slate the fourth official because I don’t know in which the context it was used.”
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Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who was inside the Parc des Princes stadium during the match, blamed the main official for failing to calm the situation.
“I thought the referee, we haven’t even talked about that, could’ve done a lot more to diffuse the situation,” Schmeichel said. “He made a very big production, he never gave himself time to sort of investigate what was happening, what had been said.”
PSG and IBB players refused to retake the field, and the game was canceled after an hour delay. UEFA Champions League officials released a statement after the match that said they will “thoroughly investigate the matter and further communication will be made in due course.”