UEFA probe refs at centre of UCL racism storm

UEFA has opened proceedings against the officials at the centre of the racism storm during the Champions League game between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir.

European football’s governing body said in a statement that following an investigation conducted by their Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector regarding the events that led to the game being abandoned, proceedings have been opened against four official Sebatian Constantin Coltescu and the referee’s assistant Octavian Sovre over a potential violation of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.

The Champions League match between PSG and Basaksehir on Dec. 8 was suspended until the following day after players from both sides walked off the pitch, alleging a match official used racial language toward the Turkish side’s assistant coach.

Players from the Turkish team were furious, saying Coltescu of Romania had used a racial term against assistant coach Pierre Webo, who is from Cameroon, before Webo was sent off at Parc des Princes by Romanian match referee Ovidiu Hategan.

The match resumed at 12.55 p.m. ET (6:55 p.m. Paris time) with a new set of officials the next day, and PSG won 5-1.

In the original match, Coltescus spoke in Romanian, with TV footage showing him 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” after Webo had vehemently protested against a refereeing decision.

Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba repeatedly asked Hategan: “Why, when you mention a Black guy, do you have to say this Black guy?”

TV footage also showed PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe saying: “Is he serious? We are heading in. We are heading in. That’s it, we are heading in.”

After the match, PSG tweeted: “Any form of racism goes against the values conveyed by Paris Saint-Germain, its president, its staff and its players.”

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu supported the players’ decision to walk off the pitch.

“Tonight, athletes took a historic decision in the face of an attitude they deemed unacceptable,” she wrote on Twitter at the time. “An expression of ordinary racism.”

Following the incident, Webo told BBC Sport: “We are now going to have the day before Dec. 8 and the day after. It will be remembered.

“It was a tough day, very tough. It’s very stressful, I saw the doctor to give me some pills to sleep.

“I don’t want people to focus on me… it will be a shame if I’m remembered for this. I’m ashamed of it, to be truthful. These two or three days have been the most difficult of my career.”

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