Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said the Scottish champions have contacted UEFA after midfielder Glen Kamara was abused by school age Sparta Prague fans in a Europa League clash with the incident threatening to become a diplomatic spat.
Kamara was sent off for two bookable offences in Rangers’ 1-0 defeat in the Czech capital on Thursday.
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek on Friday said he would summon the British ambassador to Prague.
The match was initially meant to be played behind closed doors following a separate racist incident when Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni was subjected to abuse from the stands during a Champions League qualifier in August.
However, UEFA relented to allow around 10,000 fans, mainly school children with some accompanying adults, to attend.
The incidents came just months after Kamara was racially abused by Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela in a Champions League game.
Czech international Kudela was banned for 10 matches.
In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s match, Gerrard said he was unaware of Kamara being booed every time he touched the ball.
But on Friday, the former Liverpool captain added he was now aware of it having reviewed television footage.
“I am fully aware now having watched the game back with audio on and I am actually surprised that I wasn’t aware of it during the game,” said Gerrard.
“Yes, I have spoken to Glen Kamara and that conversation will remain private. Glen is OK.”
Gerrard called on UEFA and other governing bodies to take far tougher action against racist abuse.
“There are hundreds of thousands and maybe more people disappointed and frustrated because these things keep raising their head far too often and unfortunately the punishments are not enough.
“I said last night there needs to be more done and that is the only way it is going to be eradicated because the punishments are nowhere near severe enough.
“I have been told that Rangers are going to take it up with UEFA, I think that has already happened and the wheels are already in motion and I certainly will be pushing from my direction to make sure that’s the case.”
– ‘Desperate’ –
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar issued a statement saying: “Prague has a serious problem with racism and as usual UEFA is nowhere to be seen.”
Sparta labelled Anwar’s statements as “desperate”.
Foreign Minister Kulhanek tweeted: “Enough! Deliberately spread disgusting insults of Czech children in media and on the internet have no place in football, let alone good relations between two countries.
“I will summon the British ambassador on Monday to discuss the whole matter with him.”
Sparta said on its website that Anwar’s “activism and online bullying should be dealt with by the relevant institution in Scotland.”
“Inciting xenophobic tendencies and verbal attacks on defenceless children (is) beyond the pale of morality and decorum.”
Sparta also asked Rangers to help “stop the xenophobic atmosphere directed towards our children, our beautiful country and its inhabitants”.
Slavia backed its arch-rival three days before the two clubs clash in the Prague derby in the Czech league on Sunday.
“We support the statement of AC Sparta Prague and fully agree with its content,” tweeted Slavia boss Jaroslav Tvrdik.
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