Prague, Czech Republic – Sparta Prague will not face any punishment by UEFA following accusations of racism during a Europa League match against the Glasgow Rangers last month.
An inspector for the European football federation said there was “insufficient evidence of racism or discriminatory conduct at the match to warrant the opening of disciplinary procedures against AC Sparta Praha”.
The Europa League match between Sparta Prague and Glasgow Rangers last month should have been held behind closed doors after the Czech club was issued a one-match fan ban for previous racist behaviour by some of its fans during a game against Monaco in August.
Although the Letna stadium was closed on September 30, some 10,000 children under 14 were allowed to attend for free, accompanied by a number of supervising adults.
According to UEFA regulations, “no one is allowed to attend a match to be played behind closed doors, with the exception of […] children up to the age of 14 (duly accompanied) from schools and/or football academies invited to the match free of charge.”
Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, a Finnish national of Sierra Leonean descent, had previously faced racist behaviour during a match against Slavia Prague in March. He was once again booed throughout last month’s game against Sparta.
Kamara was eventually sent off by the referee after receiving a second yellow card towards the end of the game.
Contrary to last week’s decision, the March game had led UEFA to issue a strong ten-match ban against Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela for racially abusing Kamara on the pitch.
The latest incident sparked yet another row over the long-running issue of racism in football stadiums, with Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek even summoning the British ambassador over statements made by UK officials after the game.
Sparta Prague itself had called “desperate and ridiculous” the fact that “innocent children” were being accused of racist behaviour, instead blaming the other side for stoking xenophobia.
Glasgow Rangers manager Steven Gerrard had urged UEFA and other governing bodies to do more to combat racism among football fans.
“Everyone across the world is asking for more and bigger and better and more extreme punishments in terms of racism. It needs to be eradicated,” he said, warning that without swifter action, “we’re going to be dealing with these questions for a longer time.”