Istanbul Basaksehir’s assistant assistant coach Pierre Webo (left) | Screenshot
Istanbul Basaksehir’s assistant assistant coach Pierre Webo (left) | Screenshot

New Delhi: The Champions League football tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir late Tuesday night was called off in the 23rd minute after players from both sides walked off the pitch in the French capital following racism allegations against a fourth official.

UEFA, the game’s governing body in Europe, has said that it will conduct an “thorough investigation” into the allegations. “Racism, and discrimination in all its forms, has no place within football,” it said. 

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The trouble began around the 14th minute when the Istanbul Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo, a former Cameroon international, objected to a refereeing decision. While Webo copped a red card for dissent, he accused the Romanian fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, of identifying him to the referee using a racial slur. 

With an empty stadium due to Covid protocols, cameras caught Webo confronting and accusing Coltescu of calling him a “negro”.  “Why did you say negro?” he can be heard asking repeatedly. 

Webo was backed up by Istanbul Basaksehir’s Senegalese striker, Demba Ba, who once plied his trade with Chelsea in the English Premier League. Demba Ba appeared to accuse Coltescu of identifying Webo as “the Black guy” to referee Ovidiu Hategan who was about to flash the red card. 

“When you mention a white guy, you never say ‘this white guy’, you just say ‘this guy,’ so why when you mention a black guy do you say ‘this black guy?’” he can be heard saying.

https://twitter.com/PurelyFootball/status/1336411077333176320

Before long, the PSG players began showing solidarity and the group marched off the pitch. 

Webo gets support 

After its players walked of the field, Turkish club Istanbul Başakşehir put out a statement backing them.

“In the Paris Saint Germain match, our footballers decided not to go on the field due to the racism that the 4th referee Sebastian Coltescu had against our assistant coach Pierre Webo,” it said, adding, “We are a family, no to racism.” 

 

PSG forward Kylian Mbappe tweeted in support of Webo and said, ‘SAY NO TO RACISM. M. WEBO WE ARE WITH YOU.”

 

The match will resume at 11.25 pm tonight but with different officials. 

A UEFA spokesperson told CNN, “Following an alleged incident involving the 4th official, the match was temporarily suspended…After consultation with both teams, it was agreed that the match would restart with a different 4th official.”

Not the first time players have walked off the pitch

While footballers walking off the field to protest racism is rare, it has happened in the past. 

In 2013, players from the Italian club AC Milan walked off the pitch, during a friendly match with fourth division Pro Patria, after the club’s striker, Ghanaian Kevin-Prince Boateng, accused the crowd of racial abuse.

In October 2020, during a Portugal Primeira Liga match, Porto striker Moussa Marega walked off the field after he was given a yellow card by match officials for reacting to racial slurs being hurled at him by fans. 

After he scored a goal, one of the spectators threw a seat at him, Marega picked it up and put on his head, for which he got a yellow card. 

Angered, Marega walked off the field and later posted, “I hope I never see you on a field again (to the spectators). You are a disgrace! And I also thank the referees for not defending me and giving me a yellow card because I defend my skin colour.” 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8pCtxgKqhf/

Former goalkeeper for Spain Iker Casillas tweeted in support of Marega at the time. “Respect for Marega. Respect for football. Respect for all,” he said. 

In the same month, during a league match in the US, players of the San Diego Loyal walked off the pitch at the start of the second half because one of their players was allegedly subjected to a homophobic slur by an opposing player of the Phoenix Rising club. San Diego Loyal was up 3-1 when they forfeited the match. However, Phoenix’s Junior Flemmings termed the accusations as being false.


Also read: On Slave Trade Remembrance Day, a look at how world has confronted legacy of slavery, racism


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s okay for Pierre Webo to call the Romanians “gypsies” ever since the game started, as public recordings from the game show, but it’s not okay for Sebastian Coltescu to say “dă-i cartonaș lu ăla negru” meaning “give a card to the black one”.

    The same man who called the Romanians “gypsies” got offended and ended up buying pills due to racism? I don’t buy it. Pierre Webo is a lion in sheep’s clothing, willing to play the victim while being racist himself.

    The difference between Wabe and Coltescu, is that one purposefully and intentionally called them gypsies. You can argue that those who call the Romanians “gypsies” are ignorant; that is true, but let us not forget that by naming the Romanians “gypsies”, he had ill intentions, whereby Coltescu, whether you agree or disagree that calling black people black is racist, did not had at all ill-intentions.

    What message will UEFA send to the world? Until now, I have seen only partility, double-standards and hypocrisy; for short, they have pretended and closed their eyes the most when there was really the need to take measures against discrimination.

    As for: “When you mention a white guy, you never say ‘this white guy’, you just say ‘this guy,’ so why when you mention a black guy do you say ‘this black guy?’”. Because he was the only black guy while the rest in the group near him were white guys. He said “the black one” because he didn’t know his name and it was an easy way to identify him, it had nothing to do with discrimination.

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