Mass walkout deepens row

Mass walkout deepens row

PARIS • Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League game with Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended on Tuesday and was due to be completed yesterday after both sets of players walked off in protest amid allegations of racism by one of the match officials.

The row erupted after Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo, the former Cameroon international, was shown a red card during a fierce row on the touchline and staff from the Turkish club accused the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, of using a racist term.

That led to the game at the Parc des Princes stopping in the 14th minute while still goal-less, with the players walking off around 10 minutes later.

European football governing body Uefa said yesterday it has opened a disciplinary proceeding into the match, which was set to restart yesterday with a different set of officials.

Television microphones picked up a furious Webo repeatedly asking why a racist term had been used to describe him.

The referee, Ovidiu Hategan, his two assistants and fourth official Coltescu were all from Romania.

In the exchange in question, heard on television and translated by an AFP journalist, Coltescu said: “The black one over there. This is not possible. Go and identify him. That guy, the black one, it’s not possible to act like that.”

This was in response to Webo vehemently protesting against a refereeing decision.

Basaksehir’s Senegal international striker Demba Ba, among the substitutes for the away side, could be clearly heard on television remonstrating with the official, saying in English: “When you mention a white guy, you never say ‘this white guy’, you just say ‘this guy’, so why when you mention a black guy you say ‘this black guy’?”

TV footage also showed PSG’s French defender Presnel Kimpembe saying: “Is he serious? We are heading in. We’re heading in. That’s it, we’re heading in.”

The incident sparked a reaction from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is understood to be closely linked to the owners of the club.

He tweeted to say: “I strongly condemn the racist remarks made to Pierre Webo, member of the Basaksehir technical staff, and am convinced Uefa will take the necessary measures.”

He said the incident was a fresh expression of racist trends in France. “This approach is unforgivable. Our determined stance will continue.

“(…) France has become a country where racist rhetoric, actions are intensified,” he told a news conference in Ankara.

France’s sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who was born in Romania, praised the players’ “historic decision”.

Meanwhile, Goksel Gumusdag, the president of the Turkish champions, said his side refused to restart the game as long as the fourth official was still involved.

Basaksehir responded to the incidents by tweeting “NO TO RACISM #Respect”, along with a photo of Uefa’s anti-racism logo.

The message was retweeted by PSG, who themselves later tweeted their support on their English-language feed.

Despite the interruption, PSG qualified for the last 16 from Group H after RB Leipzig beat Manchester United 3-2 in Germany.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS