Paris (AFP) – Rangers said Glen Kamara had been vindicated after UEFA banned Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela for 10 European matches on Wednesday for racially abusing the Finnish midfielder in a Europa League match.
Kamara has been suspended for three matches in UEFA club competitions for an “assault” on Kudela that reportedly took place in the tunnel after the match at Ibrox on March 18.
Rangers forward Kemar Roofe was also handed a four-match ban for his high challenge that left Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar with a fractured skull in the bad-tempered last 16, second leg tie.
“We welcome the suspension imposed on Ondrej Kudela. This not only vindicates Glen Kamara’s evidence but underlines the severity of the comment, given the number of games has been imposed by UEFA,” Rangers said in a statement.
“Nevertheless, we believe the sanctions imposed on our two players (Glen Kamara and Kemar Roofe) are severe. We have written to UEFA, seeking clarification in writing on the basis that we intend to appeal the suspensions on both of players.”
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said that handing Kudela the minimum ban for discriminatory behaviour “made a mockery of UEFA’s claims on taking racism seriously.”
Slavia, who won the match 2-0 to advance to the quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate, have denied the claims, and said earlier this month they would file a criminal complaint against Kamara for the alleged clash in the tunnel.
In a statement issued via his lawyers, Kudela reiterated his protestation of innocence.
“I am taken aback by the fact that the UEFA disciplinary committee has arrived at a different conclusion than its inspector. He said there was no convincing evidence to support the racism charges against me, which I still reject,” said Kudela.
“I am aware it was a mistake to go to Glen Kamara and tell him anything. There were emotions in the game and unfortunately I cannot take this back. I’m very sorry.”
– ‘Not enough being done’ –
Slavia chairman Jaroslav Tvrdik said the Czech champions would respect the decision, although Kudela can still appeal.
“I deeply regret that and apologise to Glen Kamara for a situation that has clearly caused distress to him and his teammates, as well as everyone associated with Slavia and Rangers,” Tvrdik said in a statement.
“I am taking positive steps to prevent such a situation from happening in our club ever again.”
Kudela was provisionally banned for the first leg of Slavia’s quarter-final against Arsenal in London last Thursday. That match will be deducted from the 10-match ban.
However, Kudela’s ban also applies to international matches, meaning he is likely to miss this summer’s European Championship where he was expected to have been in Czech Republic’s squad.
Kamara’s ban only applies to club competitions so he will be free to represent Finland at Euro 2020.
The 25-year-old and his Rangers team-mates reacted furiously as they claimed Kudela had cupped his hand and whispered a discriminatory slur into the midfielder’s ear.
Former Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf said on Wednesday that players should be immediately sanctioned if they cover their mouth while talking to an opponent or the referee, as Kudela did.
Seedorf, a four-time Champions League winner, told a Council of Europe meeting on combatting hate speech: “There is a lot of talk but not enough being done. The need is obvious and very urgent.
“From a players’ perspective, I have seen stuff with players speaking and covering their mouth during matches.
“When we’re talking about sport it has to be completely transparent, so why would I cover my mouth if I need to talk with my adversary?”