April 7 – Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela, who was at the centre of a racism storm last month, has been provisionally suspended for one game by UEFA ahead of a full hearing.
UEFA stepped in to investigate after Scottish champions Rangers protested that their midfielder Glen Kamara, who is black, was racially abused by Kudela during their Europa League last-16 fixture.
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, and both were then separated.
UEFA launched an investigation “regarding the incidents that occurred” which preceded a melee on the pitch and clashes in the tunnel afterwards.
Kudela denied the allegation and his club stood by him, lodging an official complaint with the Scottish police, via the Czech Embassy in London, alleging a “physical assault” on the 34-year-old defender.
UEFA said its Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (CEDB) was looking into Kudela for a potential violation of UEFA regulations over racism and other discriminatory conduct, and for misconduct such as insulting players.
“The CEDB today decided to provisionally suspend Mr. Ondrej Kudela for the next (1) UEFA club competition match,” it said in a statement adding this was “without prejudice to any ruling that the CEDB may subsequently make”
UEFA also added, tellingly, that proceedings have also been opened against Kamara to assess if he is guilty of assault.
The game Kudela misses is this Thursday’s quarterfinal tie with Arsenal, a huge blow to Slavia who will lose arguably their best player. But reports say he would have been out anyway due to illness .
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar released a statement on the Finnish midfielder’s behalf, saying Kudela’s suspension “smacks of ‘tokenism’ and gives little confidence to black players who face such vile abuse”.
It added: “UEFA have carried out an initial investigation which makes damning reading about Kudela’s conduct. This initial one-match ban does little to instil confidence in UEFA being serious about stamping out racism in football and they must take robust action going forward.
“The defence put forward by Slavia Prague can only be described as incredible or fantasy.”
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