On the third day of the European League, Olympique Lyonnais will travel on Thursday to the Czech Republic to face Sparta Prague, the club that continues to be subjected to racist incidents. The local sports authorities are showing inertia in this matter.
Racism is far from being eradicated from the field. In Sparta Prague, Thursday October 21, opponent of Olympique Lyonnais in the European League, is still very present. The club in the capital of the Czech Republic continues to be subjected to racial discrimination perpetrated by its supporters, an evil that has long plagued Czech football.
Last August, Sparta hosted FC Monaco in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers. When Frenchman Aurélien Tchouaméni scored the Czech club’s hopes of playing C1, the monkeys’ shouts rose from the stands.
UEFA then ordered Sparta to play its next Europa League match, against Glasgow Rangers, behind closed doors.
Sparta spokesman Ondrej Kasek told AFP that the club “has taken certain punitive measures targeting specific people (…), including a criminal complaint” after the match against Monaco.
If the club also sent a letter of apology to Aurélien Tchouaméni, it did not do enough to end racism in the stands. A month later, Sparta supporters sang racist chants targeting black players at local club Viktoria Plzen, prompting the Czech Federation to fine the club.
And at the end of September, to welcome Glasgow Rangers at C3, the club obtained a waiver from UEFA allowing it to open its stands to children only… who, during the match, did not stop booing black player Glenn Camara.
For some fans, the boos came only from the fact that the Finland international banned Czech defender Ondrej Kudila from playing the Euros. And this player was punished last spring with ten matches of suspension by the European Football Association, after an argument in March during a European match with Camara … who accused him of making racist remarks against him. The accused Camara in exchange for hitting Kudela received a three-game ban.
Commenting on an article on the Internet, a supporter wrote: “When Kamara enters the Czech territory, he should expect hostility. It was a blatant injustice.”
For Rangers, the racial motivation for the whistles is obvious. Glenn Camara’s attorney, Aamer Anwar, said all of his black teammates were also whistled during the meeting. The club called on UEFA to intervene, which withdrew last week for lack of evidence. Kudila was called up to the national team as soon as the suspension expired, and the coach praised his “calm and constructive style”.
Racist statements by politicians
Although these frequent racist incidents were less frequent ten years ago, they are embarrassing to the authorities.
🗣💬 “I approach the corner post, and I hear the monkey cries against me”
I just heard Jan-David Bojwell, a striker from Plzen, testify about the racist insults he was subjected to in the Czech Republic. Find out his full testimony today #RMCLive 👇 pic.twitter.com/OFnMY9U87F
– After-foot RMC (AfterRMC) June 19, 2020
“Again and again and again and again! Nothing has changed…no sorry, the union doesn’t change anything,” Viktoria Plzen striker Jan David Boguel wrote on Twitter in July after the first game of the season. During which Sparta supporters screamed like a monkey against Olomouc defender Florent Pololo.
For Czech journalist Ludik Madl, interviewed by AFP, authorities are slowing down. “When there is an obvious problem with racism, everyone goes there with their official convictions, and there are some fines, although they’re not really a deterrent. But I don’t think they’re after a long-term solution.”
“African people only see as black, and a large part of the people in our country don’t see the problem there,” adds Ludick Madl.
Nearly one in two Czechs see immigrants as a source of insecurity, according to a 2020 survey by the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Racist and xenophobic remarks of some political figures, including President Milos Zeman, especially since the wave of immigration in 2015, maintain a hostile atmosphere. Thus, the Presidency officially objected to the suspension of Kudela’s membership to UEFA.
When a Scottish Union member criticized Czech supporters, the Czech foreign minister summoned the British ambassador to complain.
“Many Czech supporters think that the West is overreacting to racism, when we would have a more balanced view. And we are wrong,” Ludick Madl said.
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