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For the third day of the Europa League, Olympique Lyonnais travels Thursday to the Czech Republic to face Sparta Prague, a club that continues to be singled out for racist incidents. The local sports authorities are showing immobility on the subject.
Racism is far from being eradicated from the stadiums. In that of Sparta Prague, Thursday October 21 opponent of Olympique Lyonnais in the Europa League, he is still very present. The club in the capital of the Czech Republic continues to be singled out for the racism of its supporters, an evil that has plagued long-standing Czech football.
Last August, Sparta hosted AS Monaco in qualifying for the Champions League. When Frenchman Aurélien Tchouaméni scored, burying the hopes of the Czech club to play C1, monkey cries rose from the stands.
Sparta were then ordered by UEFA to play their next next match in the Europa League, against Glasgow Rangers, behind closed doors.
Sparta spokesperson Ondrej Kasik told AFP that the club had “taken certain punitive measures targeting identified persons (…) including a criminal complaint” after the match against Monaco.
If the club also sent a letter of apology to Aurélien Tchouaméni, he did not do enough to put an end to 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, for the reception of Glasgow Rangers in C3, the club obtained a waiver from UEFA allowing it to open its stands only to children … who, during the match, did not stop booing the player black Glen Kamara.
For some fans, the boos came only from the fact that the Finland international had prevented the Czech defender Ondrej Kudela from being able to play the Euro. This player was sanctioned last spring with ten suspension matches by UEFA, after an altercation in March during a European match with Kamara … who accused him of having made racist remarks against him. Kamara, accused in return of hitting Kudela, received a three-match suspension.
“When Kamara enters Czech territory, he must expect hostility. It was a crying injustice,” wrote a supporter commenting on an online article.
For the Rangers, the racist motivation of the whistles is clear. Aamer Anwar, Glen Kamara’s lawyer, said that all his black teammates had also been whistled during the meeting. The club called on UEFA to intervene, which withdrew last week for lack of evidence. And Kudela was called back to the national team as soon as his suspension ended, the coach praising his “calm and constructive style”.
Racist comments from political figures
Although less frequent than ten years ago, these repeated racist incidents embarrass the authorities.
🗣💬 “I go near the corner post, and I hear monkey cries against me”
You have just heard Jean-David Beauguel, attacker from Plzen, who testifies to the racist insults he suffered in the Czech Republic. Discover his testimony in full on #RMCLive 👇 pic.twitter.com/OFnMY9U87F
— After Foot RMC (@AfterRMC) June 19, 2020
“AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN !! Nothing has changed … uuuh no sorry, the federation does not change anything”, wrote on Twitter the striker of Viktoria Plzen Jean-David Beauguel in July, after the first match of the season … during which Sparta supporters had shouted like a monkey against the French defender of Olomouc Florent Poulolo.
For Ludek Madl, Czech journalist interviewed by AFP, the authorities are dragging their feet. “Whenever there is a visible problem with racism, everyone goes for their formal conviction, there are a few fines, although not really a deterrent. But I don’t think they seek a long-term solution. “
“People only see Africans as blacks, and a considerable part of the people in our country do not see the problem there,” adds Ludek Madl.
Nearly one in two Czechs see migrants as a source of insecurity, according to a 2020 survey by the Czech Academy of Sciences.
The racist and xenophobic remarks of certain political figures, including President Milos Zeman, especially since the migratory wave of 2015, maintain a hostile climate. The presidency had thus officially contested the suspension of Kudela before UEFA.
And when a member of the Scottish Federation criticized Czech supporters, the Czech Foreign Minister summoned the British ambassador to complain.
“Many Czech supporters think that the West is doing too much with racism, while we would have a more balanced vision. And we are wrong,” said Ludek Madl.