Rangers player says opponent racially abused him during game

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Scottish champion Rangers are calling for a “robust and unequivocal” response from UEFA after one of their players said he was racially abused by a Slavia Prague opponent late in their Europa League match.

Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, who is Black, told manager Steven Gerrard that Ondřej Kúdela uttered a racist remark to him in the closing moments of Slavia’s 2-0 victory at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on Thursday.

Kúdela approached Kamara during a stoppage in play, covered his mouth with both hands and said something into Kamara’s right ear. The Rangers player reacted by pointing at Kúdela as both were then separated.

Slavia and Kúdela have denied the allegation, with the player saying he used offensive but not racial language.

“We refuse to acknowledge any attempt to defend, deflect or deny the abuse Glen Kamara experienced last night,” Stewart Robertson, the Glasgow club’s managing director, said in a statement on Friday.

“UEFA will be well aware the football world is watching,” Robertson said. “We expect a robust and unequivocal response in relation to this incident. It cannot be merely ‘swept under the carpet’ — we are not prepared for Glen Kamara to be yet another statistic. Enough is enough.”

The Rangers statement added that several more players “have subsequently received racist, threatening and sickening abuse online.”

After Thursday’s game, Gerrard said he fully supported Kamara.

“I know Glen and I trust him 100% and it is extremely disappointing,” Gerrard said. “Something needs to happen quickly, that is above me, but 100% whatever happens moving forward I stand next to Glen Kamara.”

Gerrard, whose team was eliminated with the second-leg loss in the round of 16, described the 25-year-old Kamara as being “devastated” by the incident. He said the Finnish player is “a cool, calm kid.”

UEFA said in a statement on Friday that it is “waiting to receive detailed reports of the match officials who were present at the game before commenting further.”

Slavia denied the allegations and claimed that Kamara assaulted Kúdela after the game as the Czech team “was not allowed to enter the dressing room.”

“Slavia resolutely denies the disgusting accusation of one of the team captains Ondřej Kúdela of racist behavior,” the team said in a statement early Friday.

Kúdela, who is white, acknowledges uttering an expletive but denied it was racial.

“It was said in emotions, but I absolutely deny there was anything racist in those words,” Kúdela said as part of the team’s statement.

The team said it was denied access to the locker room immediately after the game, and that Kamara threw punches at the 33-year-old defender.

“Ondřej Kúdela was assaulted by player Kamara and hit with fists in the head when Rangers manager Steven Gerrard witnessed the incident,” the team said. “Even the UEFA representatives who were also present on the site of the incident were shocked by this behavior.”

UEFA added that it “is aware of an incident which occurred in the tunnel after the end of the match and which involved some players of both teams.”

Rangers ended the game with nine men. Rangers forward Kemar Roofe was sent off just past the hour mark after his cleat caught goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar in the face and head. Kolar left the game and received 10 stitches.

Kamara had received a yellow card in the first half.

After the incident with Kamara, Kúdela was shown a yellow card, as was Rangers defender Connor Goldson.

The Czech team advanced 3-1 on aggregate to the quarterfinals.

The Scottish players’ union backed Kamara, saying Friday that the incident highlights why players have been taking a knee before games.

“The racist abuse received last night by Glen Kamara, added to the awful incidents earlier this season involving Nir Bitton, Jonathan Afolabi and Alex Dyer, simply shows more than ever that we must continue to fight against the racists that attach themselves to our game,” said Fraser Wishart, chief executive of Professional Footballers’ Association Scotland.

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