Rangers stand by Glen Kamara as UEFA probes Slavia Prague racism allegations

Andy Newport, PA
·5-min read

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson insists the Ibrox club refuse to accept any attempt to “deflect” away from the alleged racial abuse aimed at Glen Kamara.

Kamara found himself at the centre of a storm after Steven Gerrard’s team crashed out of the Europa League to Slavia Prague on Thursday night.

Kamara and his team-mates reacted with fury after Czech defender Ondrej Kudela cupped his hand and whispered an alleged discriminatory slur into the midfielder’s ear.

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The Slavia player has denied the allegations and his club claim they are considering a criminal complaint against Kamara after accusing him of punching Kudela.

UEFA has now launched a probe into the post-match incident but Gerrard has already warned they must not allow the racism claims to be “brushed under the carpet”.

Now Ibrox managing director Robertson has also turned up the heat on European football’s governing body as he insisted “enough is enough”.

“Racism is unacceptable in any form and in any setting,” he said in a statement. “The racist abuse suffered by Glen Kamara will not be tolerated by Rangers. As a club, we stand resolutely behind Glen as we support him and his team-mates.

“Several of our players have subsequently received racist, threatening and sickening abuse online. This is abhorrent and once again highlights the responsibility social media outlets have in eradicating abuse from faceless cowards.

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“We refuse to acknowledge any attempt to defend, deflect or deny the abuse Glen Kamara experienced last night.

“Our manager, Steven Gerrard, has already underlined his own disgust at this incident and support for our players. We can confirm that Steven, our chairman Douglas Park, sporting director Ross Wilson and I, met last night to agree our club stance.

“We also met with UEFA representatives. This incident has been reported to the UEFA match delegate and we understand that it has formed part of his match report.

“UEFA will be well aware the football world is watching. 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.”

UEFA initially said it was “aware of an incident which occurred in the tunnel after the end of the match” before later confirming it had now launched and investigation into the events at the the match – which saw Gers lose 2-0 and have both Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun sent off.

It said in a statement: “In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector will conduct an investigation regarding the incidents that occurred during the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg match between Rangers FC and SK Slavia Praha on March 18 2021.”

Slavia were quick to deny the allegations, claiming Kudela called Kamara a “f****** guy” in a late night statement.

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They also criticised Rangers for their “unprecedentedly malicious play” and “brutal tackles”. Ondrej Kolar was left with a fractured skull and 10 stitches after Roofe planted his studs into the Slavia keeper’s face, while Balogun also walked after collecting two bookings.

The Czech league leaders later issued a fresh statement insisting they would never tolerate any form of racism, discrimination or hatred, adding that the “modern Slavia is a fully multicultural team and even our hardcore fans wear jerseys of all players without exceptions”.

The statement went on: “Ondrej Kudela is one of the team captains elected in secret polls by the players who choose characters that enjoy their trust. He is a decent and modest person with a strong moral integrity, popular amongst the players and fans, a football gentleman. He categorically denies and refutes any allegations of racism.

“We are shocked that his reputation and the club’s reputation are being smeared without a single piece of evidence. The only ‘alleged’ evidence is the player covering his mouth – which Ondrej does on a regular basis when he talks to his team-mates during our games.

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“Under the patronage and in the presence of the UEFA delegation, the coaches of both teams, Ondrej Kudela and Glen Kamara met. After the arrival of Slavia representatives, Ondrej was physically abused by the player of Rangers FC who then fled into the locker rooms followed by the manager Steven Gerrard without a single word of apology.

“The incident is thoroughly described in the match protocol and Slavia will consider filing a criminal complaint after their return to the Czech Republic.

“The movement of Slavia players and management was unprecedentedly restricted after the game. The players and staff were protected by the Czech Embassy in London and local police. We would like to express our gratitude for their professionalism.

“We have felt a great respect to Rangers FC for their recent football performance and glorious history. However, we wish for a UEFA investigation into all incidents related to the recent match and will fully co-operate.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said on Friday morning: “No reports of criminality have been made by either club in connection with last night’s match. Police Scotland has contacted club officials and assured them that should any allegation be received it will be investigated thoroughly.”