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PSG, Basaksehir players walk off over racist abuse

December 8, 2020

The match was abandoned after players from the Turkish side claimed that the fourth official used a racial slur against their assistant coach. It is scheduled to restart with a replacement official on Wednesday.

Referee Ovidiu Hategan with Istanbul Basaksehir's Demba Ba as the match is interrupted
Referee Ovidiu Hategan talks to Basaksehir's Demba Ba as the match is interruptedImage: REUTERS

The Champions League fixture between Paris Saint Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was abandoned Tuesday after players left the pitch over alleged racist slurs by a match official.

"Our assistant coach, Pierre Webo has been sent off with a 'racist' word by the 4th official ref. of the match. Match has stopped for a while," the Turkish club said on its official Twitter feed.

Basaksehir players left the match some 20 minutes into the game, after a long and heated discussion with match officials. The PSG team followed.

What happened?

The score was 0-0 after 14 minutes when the game was stopped. Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo accused the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu of Romania, of using a racial term to describe him. It sparked a commotion in the technical area that led to Webo being sent off by the referee.

Coltescu was audible in the empty Parc des Princes stadium as the match was being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking in Romanian, the official was heard saying: "The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it's not possible to act like that."

Television microphones also picked up a furious Webo repeatedly asking the official why the racist term was used to describe him.

Players demand explanation

Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba came off the bench and demanded an explanation from Coltescu.

"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 do you say, 'this black guy?'" Demba Ba asked the fourth official.

PSG players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe also demanded an explanation and Basaksehir coach Okan Buruk told Coltescu: "You are racist."

Istanbul Basaksehir posted a message on Twitter during the interruption, which was retweeted by the official PSG handle as well. 

Reactions from Turkey

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

"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," Erdogan said on Twitter.

Basaksehir club's president said that the players wouldn't return to the field as long as Coltescu was still there.

"The fourth official used the word 'negro' in front of everybody. If the fourth official is removed from the pitch, then we will restart," Göksel Gümüsdag told Turkish television channel TRT Spor.

Coltescu said he wanted to use his native Romanian to identify the assistant coach. The Romanian word for black is "negru," leaving it unclear which term the official used.

UEFA "vows action

UEFA replaced Coltescu and pledged to investigate the incident. "Following an alleged incident involving the 4th official, the match was temporarily suspended. After consultation with both teams, it was agreed that the match would restart with a different 4th official," the league said in a statement.

"UEFA will thoroughly investigate the matter and further communication will be made in due course."

However, Coltescu would remain in the video control room, which the Turkish club had also opposed.  

The match is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

As per UEFA rules, any team that refuses to play must forfeit the game and also faces a fine of 250,000 Swiss francs ($281,000, €232,000). It is still unclear how this rule would be applied in this case.

adi/rt (AFP, Reuters dpa)