It was a flashpoint with racist undertones that wrote the headlines after Rangers crashed out of the Europa League to Slavia Prague.
The Scottish side’s Glen Kamara alleges he was the victim of vile abuse from Slavia’s Ondrej Kudela, and has now released an official statement via his solicitor.
“There is no place for racism or any form of bigotry in football,” it began, reported via the Daily Mail.
“Since (the) 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 (sic) took place on the international stage, and any failure to act by UEFA will be viewed as a greenlight for racism.
“During yesterday’s (Thursday’s) match with Slavia Prague, Kedel (sic) 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 f***ing monkey, you know you are”.
“I was shocked and horrified to hear such racist abuse from a professional football player. Kedel’s (sic) claim he simply swore at me and said “You’re a f***ing guy” is a complete utter lie which does not stand up to any form of scrutiny.
“Kedel’s (sic) actions were deliberate and premeditated, but he was loud enough for my team-mate Bongani Zungu to hear what was said.
“I am grateful for the unconditional support of my team, our club and especially our manager Steven Gerrard.
“I want to thank not just our Rangers fans, but the many fans from across the football community and beyond, for calling out racism not just against myself, but also fellow player Kemar Roofe, who was subjected to a tirade of racist bile on Instagram.
“We as black players are sick of the freedom that such bigots are given to parade their hatred on social media and wonder when the likes of Instagram will start to take action.”
Rangers glen kamara being racially abused by a slavia Prague player according to steven Gerrard, let’s see what uefa have to say about it. pic.twitter.com/qyT11smVLw
— Devo (@DevoLDN) March 18, 2021
As noted, Kamara has the full backing of his team-mates, manager Steven Gerrard, and the club as a whole.
Certainly, his contention that Kudela’s version of events doesn’t weigh up is plausible enough.
Why would Kudela need to cover his mouth so TV cameras couldn’t pick up what he was saying, if in fact what he was alleging he said was not at all abusive?
The reaction of Kamara’s team-mates in the immediate vicinity is also telling, and that has to play a part on UEFA’s thinking when they come to review the footage.
Indeed, this could be a watershed moment for the sport.
The authorities have long said that racism has no place in football, and if it’s proven in this case, UEFA have the perfect opportunity to throw the book at Slavia and their player.