Czech politico complains to UEFA over Kúdela’s ‘unprecedented’ racism ban

By Andrew Warshaw

April 16 – The 10-game ban meted out by UEFA to Slavia Prague’s international  defender Ondrej Kudela for racist abuse has prompted a remarkable intervention by the Czech government as one of the most high-profile recent cases of discrimination on the pitch continues to rumble on.

Kúdela was initially banned for a single game as UEFA launched a formal investigation into his conduct after Scottish champions Rangers protested that their midfielder Glen Kamara, who is black, was racially abused by Kúdela during the Europa League last-16 fixture between the two sides.

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 said its ban would apply to “club and representative team competition matches,” including the rest of Slavia’s Europa League campaign and the Czech Republic’s games at this summer’s European Championship.

Slavia Prague have accepted the sanction but the Czech president’s office says it has formally complained to UEFA which also handed down a three-match ban to Kamara for assaulting Kúdelaafter the game which Slavia won 2-0 to give them a 3-1 victory on aggregate.

Rangers striker Kemar Roofe was also banned for four games by UEFA for a high challenge on Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar which left him with a fractured skull.

Vladimir Mynar, from the office of Czech President Milos Zeman, said in an open letter to UEFA’s disciplinary body that Kúdela’s ban was disproportionately high compared to those for the Rangers players.

“I want to point out the racism charges were not proven. The UEFA inspector himself questioned that Ondrej Kúdelahad made a racist statement,” wrote Mynar, who is a Slavia fan.

In a hard-hitting rebuke, he continued: “You have decided on a completely unprecedented punishment for a player who did not harm anyone and only verbally – according to his statement – offended his opponent. You condemn a decent person without a single piece of evidence.

“You make it impossible for athletes to fulfil their dream in the Europa League – all this just to fulfil the perverted expectations of a small group of activists and a club unable to win on the field, all the more so by shouting empty and hurtful phrases about racism.

“In your submission, the fight against racism has become the fight of the unsuccessful against the successful, the pinnacle of hypocrisy, positive discrimination and embarrassing undermining with stupid trends.”

Rangers, understandably, have taken a different view, complaining the bans handed to Kamara and Roofe were “severe”.

Kudela, 34, will likely now miss this summer’s delayed Euros though his lawyers say he is contemplating an appeal.

Slavia were knocked out of the competition by Arsenal in the quarterfinals on Thursday and Mynar, in his submission, goes so far as to even suggest UEFA’s ruling will see non-black players become the victim of discrimination in future.

“Your efforts can lead to .. a situation where a person with a colour other than black will be discriminated against, oppressed and deprived of their rights,” he declared. “That is why I also consider it necessary to oppose this procedure.”

Mynar insists the Rangers duo got off lightly.

“The opponent’s insidious foul ended in a serious injury to goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar. He ended up with a skull fracture and will have to walk on the field with a helmet for the rest of his life.

“Result? The player who crushed the opponent’s skull with a football boot received a penalty of matches, another player for a physical attack received a three-match penalty.”

Such is the anger in the Czech Republic over UEFA’s decisions that the case is even being monitored by the Czech president.

“The President of the Republic Milos Zeman is acquainted with the situation in detail and considers it important not only from the point of view of sport, but also from the point of view of justice and human dignity,” wrote Mynar.

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