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Steven Gerrard ‘not surprised’ by claims that Sparta crowd targeted Glen Kamara

Czech Republic Soccer Europa League
(Image credit: Petr David Josek)

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was not surprised to hear claims that Glen Kamara had been targeted by schoolchildren at Sparta Prague – but admitted he had not noticed himself.

Boos were audible when Kamara touched the ball, more than any other Gers player, as Sparta recorded a 1-0 Europa League win.

The treatment came months after Ondrej Kudela, of Sparta’s city rivals Slavia, was banned for 10 matches after UEFA found him guilty of racially abusing Kamara, who received a three-game ban himself for an alleged assault on the Czech player in the Ibrox tunnel.

The Letna Stadium was originally meant to be shut following a separate racist incident after Monaco’s Aurelius Tchouameni was subjected to abuse from the stands last season.

UEFA instead agreed for the game to go ahead in front of mainly schoolchildren with some accompanying adults.

Kamara’s night went from bad to worse when he was sent off in the 74th minute, to huge cheers from the crowd, after receiving his second yellow card, for what looked a harsh decision after an aerial challenge.

When asked about the jeers Kamara faced, Gerrard told a press conference: “During the game I haven’t been aware. I have obviously been focused on the game and the tactical changes that I was trying to think about to try and get us back in the game as we were trailing.

“If they are facts and that is the truth, then I am extremely disappointed, but not surprised.

“We need the facts, we need confirmation if that’s the truth before I comment. If that was the case and they were targeting Glen, it’s extremely disappointing because the reason there’s a lot of kids in the stadium in the first place is because of previous similar incidents.”

When asked if UEFA should look at the situation, Gerrard said: “There needs to be more done. Not just myself, everyone across the world is asking for more and bigger and better and more extreme punishments in terms of racism. It needs to be eradicated.

“But until the powers that be do more and treat it more seriously, until that happens, we’re going to be dealing with these questions for a longer time.”

Kamara’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, criticised the Czech club, saying in a statement: “I had hoped when I heard of the stadium closure of Sparta Prague that both Glen and other black players wouldn’t have to put up with any abuse or racism and could just get on with playing football.

“But this evening should be an embarrassment for the Czech side that, despite their fans being banned, it still made little difference that the stadium was filled with 10,000 schoolchildren.

“A huge proportion of those children booed Glen’s every touch of the ball along with every other black player for Rangers. Tonight shows yet again that Prague has a serious problem with racism and as usual UEFA is nowhere to be seen.

“Glen and the Rangers players have shown total class, but no player should have to face this at their work and on the European stage.”

On the game, which saw David Hancko net a 29th-minute winner for the home side, Gerrard admitted Sparta had looked the more threatening side but he was encouraged by his team’s general play.

The defeat left Rangers with no points from their first two games.

“We have to win the next game at home to Brondby to give ourselves an outside chance,” Gerrard added.