The fourth official at the centre of the racism controversy in Tuesday’s aborted Champions League clash between Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir will struggle to work again if allegations made against him are upheld, according to Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari.
UEFA has announced the appointment of an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector to look into the events of the Group H encounter, which was abandoned after 13 minutes when both sets of players walked off the pitch in the wake of a red card being shown to Basaksehir assistant manager Pierre Webo.
Subsequent video footage showed the Cameroonian accusing the fourth official, Romanian Sebastian Coltescu, of using racist language, with Basaksehir striker Demba Ba also remonstrating with the official.
Bhandari said he hopes UEFA will impose “appropriate sanctions” if the official is found guilty – and that any proof of guilt could effectively constitute a life ban.
He told Sky Sports News: “I’m not sure whether it would be possible – even if they didn’t get a life ban – I’m not sure how easy it would be for that person to officiate again, and whether the players would accept that.
“We have to let process take its course and hopefully they (UEFA) will do a thorough investigation and there will be appropriate sanctions.”
Former Newcastle goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who has worked for 25 years with the anti-racism organisation Show Racism The Red Card, said he believed Coltescu had been “let down” by the authorities’ failure to equip officials with the awareness to avoid potential language or cultural issues.
Hislop told the PA news agency: “I’ve always said I don’t think the authorities are doing enough about racism and sensitivities as it pertains to language.
“Whereas the fourth official is going to bear the brunt of the criticism here, I think he’s been let down – and that’s assuming he was innocent in what he said and unknowing as to the fall-out that it would cause.”
UEFA confirmed the match will resume at 1755GMT on Wednesday, with a new team of officials, led by Holland’s Danny Makkelie. The fourth official replacing Coltescu will be Bartosch Frankowsky of Poland.
In footage of the incident, former Chelsea striker Ba is seen asking the official: “Why, when you mention a black guy, do you have to say this black guy?”
UEFA said in a statement: “Following an incident at (Tuesday night’s) UEFA Champions League match between Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir, UEFA has – after discussion with both clubs – decided on an exceptional basis to have the remaining minutes of the match played (on Wednesday) with a new team of match officials.
“A thorough investigation on the incident that took place will be opened immediately.”
UEFA is aware of an incident during tonight’s Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir and will be conducting a thorough investigation.— UEFA (@UEFA) December 8, 2020
UEFA had initially said the game would continue with a replacement fourth official, but it did not.
Basaksehir, who had earlier posted a message on their Twitter account which read: “NO TO RACISM #Respect”, announced their players would not be reappearing to complete the match.
“Our players have taken a decision NOT TO go back on the pitch after our assistant coach, Pierre Webo, was exposed to racist behaviour by the fourth official,” Basaksehir said on Twitter.
Tonight’s match between @PSG_English and @ibfk2014 was interrupted after 13 minutes of play following racist remarks by the fourth official to a member of the Basaksehir club staff.— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 8, 2020
PSG said in a statement that “all forms of racism go against the values held by Paris St Germain and the club’s chairman, staff and players”.
The club added: “For more than 15 years Paris St Germain has led the fight against discrimination and continues to work to eradicate it in all forms. The capital club is today one of the most committed sports clubs striving to end all forms of violence and discrimination.”
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, who knows referee Ovidiu Hategan, said the fourth official must be ready to accept the consequences.
“The fourth official, only he can express his feelings,” the Portuguese said ahead of his side’s Europa League game with Royal Antwerp.
“Of course he made an unacceptable mistake, but only he can open his heart, apologise and accept the consequences.
“Probably he is also a very good referee, but everyone in football and society, we have our responsibilities in relation to this situation and if we make mistakes we have to accept responsibilities.”
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