Prague, Czech Republic – The Sparta Prague football club said it had identified its fans involved in recent cases of racist abuse and has banned them from attending all its matches.
Sparta Prague issues ban for fans over racist abuse
The management of the Czech club announced it had concluded its investigation and identified the culprits thanks to TV recordings and CCTV footage.
It’s unclear how long the ban will stay in place, or to exactly how many fans it applies.
The Czech club was fined 100,000 Kc by the Disciplinary Committee of the Czech Football League for the racist behaviour of some of its fans towards Florent Poulolo during a July match against Sigma Olomouc.
UEFA also charged AC Sparta Prague with racist abuse following a Champions League qualifying round game against Monaco earlier this month.
“The club strongly urges fans not to express racism in any way,” the club management said in a statement following the incident aimed at Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni after his opening goal. “Not just in upcoming home games, but every time they go to the stadium. Racism is unacceptable.”
The 21-year-old French player later took to social media to describe how the events had affected him, saying he had received death threats for speaking out against racism in football circles.
“Racism does not belong to football”
“Racism does not belong to Football or to any other place for that matter”, he wrote on Twitter. “Diversity is the most precious thing we have in this world and it makes it beautiful.”
The lingering issue of racism in Czech football recently made headlines although this time concerning Sparta’s arch-rivals, Slavia Prague.
In April, Slavia Prague player Ondrej Kudela was handed a 10-game ban by UEFA for allegedly racially insulting Glasgow Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara during a Europa League match.
The incident sparked a heated debate in the Czech Republic, with the office of President Milos Zeman weighing in and accusing UEFA of “condemning a decent person without a single piece of evidence.”
Other observers noted that the incident only highlighted the long-standing problem of racism in Czech football circles, and more broadly within Czech society. “Knowing Czech mentality, I am afraid that the vast majority of fans will just stick to their ‘bubble'”, Jiri Hosek told Czech Radio.
“They will think that this is a case of hidden racism towards Central and Eastern Europe” instead of recognizing the Czech league’s own problems with racism, he added, nevertheless criticizing the way UEFA handled the affair.