Istanbul Basaksehir’s players, closely followed by their opponents Paris St Germain, walked off the pitch during a Champions League soccer game on Tuesday after the Turkish club accused a match official of racism.
Basaksehir’s assistant coach Pierre Webo was shown a red card for protesting against a refereeing decision and the Turkish side then alleged that the fourth official Sebastian Coltescu used a racist term towards the Cameroonian.
The players from both teams left the field after about 10 minutes of discussions with Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan.
“A complaint from the Basaksehir bench after racist remarks by the fourth official were followed by a coming-together of all 22 players pitch-side,” PSG said in a statement.
“After 10 minutes of explanation, the referee invited both teams to return to their respective changing rooms.”
European soccer’s governing body UEFA, which announced that it will launch an investigation, said in a statement: “Following an alleged incident involving the 4th official, the match was temporarily suspended.”
Basaksehir added on Twitter: “Our players have taken a decision NOT TO go back on the pitch after our Assistant Coach Pierre Webo has been exposed to racist behaviour by the 4th Official.”
The game, which was suspended in the 13th minute, did not resume and UEFA said the rest of the match at the Parc des Princes would be played on Wednesday at 1755 GMT.
“UEFA has – after discussion with both clubs – decided on an exceptional basis to have the remaining minutes of the match played tomorrow with a new team of match officials,” it said.
TV footage showed fourth official Coltescu saying in Romanian: ‘The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that’ after Webo vehemently protested against a refereeing decision.
“Why he say negro?”, Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba repeatedly asked match referee Hategan as confusion reigned on the touchline in the Group H match.
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.”
UEFA said it will be conducting a “thorough investigation”.
“Racism, and discrimination in all its forms, has no place within football,” the governing body said in a statement
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter he believed UEFA would take the necessary steps.
“We are unconditionally against racism and discrimination in sports and in all areas of life,” he wrote.
Basaksehir posted UEFA’s ‘No to Racism’ banner on Twitter, which was retweeted by PSG on their own official account.
The French champions added in their statement: “All forms of racism go against the values held by Paris Saint-Germain and the club’s Chairman, staff and players.
“For more than 15 years PSG has led the fight against discrimination and continues to work to eradicate it in all forms.”
PSG qualified for the last 16 of Europe’s leading club competition, despite the match being suspended and then rescheduled, after Manchester United lost 3-2 at Leipzig. – Reuters ■