Glen Kamara has said Uefa will be “giving the green light to racism” if it fails to punish Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela over a racist comment the Rangers midfielder insists was spoken to him during Thursday’s Europa League tie at Ibrox. Kamara says Kudela’s explanation of events “does not stand up to any form of scrutiny” while adding that one of his team-mates also heard the alleged remark.
Kamara reacted with fury after the incident in the 87th minute of the game. Kudela covered his mouth before speaking in Kamara’s ear. Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, later revealed Kamara had told him the comment was a racist slur. Slavia vehemently dispute the claim, including with the assertion that Kudela said “you’re a fucking guy” to Kamara. The Czechs have also stated Kamara assaulted Kudela in the tunnel after the game.
In a statement, Kamara said: “Since summer many of us have taken the knee in solidarity with those who have lost their lives to racial violence. If Uefa genuinely wants to ‘show racism the red card’, then it’s time to stop the tokenism and take a zero-tolerance approach.
“As a player I do not expect myself, nor any other to have to tolerate racial hatred on or off the pitch in 2021. The vile racist abuse by Ondrej Kedel took place on the international stage and any failure to act by Uefa will be viewed as a green light for racism.”
On the moment itself, Kamara explained: “Kedel was arguing with a Rangers player and after I tried to intervene, he told me to shut up and then said ‘one second my friend’. He then came over to me covering his mouth, leaning into my ear, he uttered the words – ‘You’re a fucking monkey, you know you are.’
“I was shocked and horrified to hear such racist abuse from a professional football player. Kedel’s claim he simply swore at me and said ‘You’re a fucking guy’ is a complete and utter lie, which does not stand up to any form of scrutiny. Kedel’s actions were deliberate and premeditated, but he was loud enough for my teammate Bongani Zungu to hear what was said.”
Uefa confirmed an ethics and disciplinary inspector had opened an investigation into “incidents” during the match at Ibrox. Disciplinary regulations state any player who insults an opponent based on skin colour can receive a suspension of at least 10 matches. Gerrard, though, is unconvinced European football’s governing body will handle this appropriately.
“I have a concern about that,” said the Rangers manager. “I think time will tell in terms of the outcome. It [racism] is happening too much.”
In a statement, the Rangers managing director, Stewart Robertson, said: “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.”
Slavia said of Kudela: “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 teammates during our games.”
Of post-match matters their statement said: “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.”
Slavia said on Friday evening they had reported this matter to Police Scotland. The police at that point said they had received no such complaint, although it is possible there is a delay if it were to be relayed via the Czech embassy in London.
Gerrard, asked whether he had witnessed Kamara allegedly assaulting Kudela, said: “I don’t really bother myself or concern myself with what other clubs release. My priority is Rangers and you have read the statement we have released. That’s the only thing that is of interest to me.
“I think I’ve dealt with the situation in terms of speaking after the game. This is now a matter which is in Uefa’s hands.”