The racism row between Glen Kamara and Sparta Prague is boiling over as both parties are threatening to take legal action. The spat that started in the round-of-16 game in the Europa League in 2020 was rekindled in their most recent group stage clash in the Europa League this season. Kamara, the Finnish international was subject to vile racist chants from the Sparta Prague fans again.
6 months ago Glen Kamara spoke out on racist abuse from a Slavia Prague player. Last night he went to Prague to face Sparta. The stadium was closed due to their own fans’ racism but 10k local school kids were allowed in.
Children, with no adults leading them, then booed Kamara. https://t.co/gS4Q2Q6zO1
— Peter A Smith (@PeterAdamSmith) October 1, 2021
The Czech club has a dubious history when it comes to racism-related incidents. It came to the fore again when a Sparta’s crowd, mostly made of school kids, booed every touch of Rangers’ Glen Kamara during their group stage game. The 1-0 win by Sparta over the Scottish Champions Rangers was heavily overshadowed by the proceedings that followed later.
FootTheBall brings you what happened thus far in the racism row between Glen Kamara and Sparta Prague.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
The Czech Republic has had a notorious name for racist behaviour and the way the crowd treats players of colour. Many incidents have occurred in the past and were dealt with by harsh actions from UEFA. Yet, few felt that the actions taken by the governing body were enough to curb racism in the stadiums. The fans weren’t punished and continued to do so again and again.
Most recently, in a Champions League qualifier against AS Monaco, the fans crossed a line. Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni who scored the opener was abused racially by the home crowd. The youngster immediately responded and his teammates threatened to walk away from the game. The game was stopped for three minutes and the fans were warned.
OUR TURN TO BE HEARD ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/XxgkpRuBZc
— Tchouameni Aurélien (@atchouameni) August 4, 2021
But after the game, UEFA were critical towards the club and ordered the club to play all its European games this season behind closed doors. However, relaxation was given as UEFA allowed children between the age of 10 to 19 to attend the games.
They welcomed Rangers to their home for their group stage clash. This game already has history from the previous season (more on that later). But the situation did not change as Rangers’ Glen Kamara was targeted yet again. His every touch, every pass and tackle were booed by the home crowd.
Glen Kamara and his Rangers teammates take the knee in front of Sparta Prague players. pic.twitter.com/XXUCNi1L3t
— i sport (@iPaperSport) September 30, 2021
It was astonishing given the fact that they were mere kids. Where did the idea of abuse even come from to those tender minds? The pressure got into Kamara’s head as the Finnish midfielder was sent off in the 70th minute, that too controversially. Rangers went on to lose the game 1-0 but it wouldn’t count for much in the storm that broke out.
THE FULL-BLOWN WAR
The racial abuse of Glean Kamara in the game was witnessed by the whole world. The internet was critical of the behaviour of the young fans of Sparta Prague. They were wondering how kids with such pure hearts were used to commit such foolish acts.
Glen Kamara’s manager offered his support to Kamara. Gerrard said: “There needs to be more done. Not just myself, 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.”
Also, Glen Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar who always backs his player ranted about Prague and UEFA’s stance on racism. He said, “I had hoped when I heard of the stadium closure of Sparta Prague that both Glen and other black players wouldn’t have to put up with any abuse or racism and could just get on with playing football.
I hoped stadium closure to Sparta Prague fans for their racial abuse of Monaco's Tchouameni & invite to 10,000 kids would mean that @GlenKamara4 & all the other black players @RangersFC didn’t have to face racism, no such luck tonight as the kid’s carried on the abuse-shameful pic.twitter.com/yNvaX4WWvU
— Aamer Anwar✊🏾🏳️🌈#BlackLivesMatter (@AamerAnwar) September 30, 2021
“But this evening should be an embarrassment for the Czech side that, despite their fans being banned, it still made little difference that the stadium was filled with 10,000 schoolchildren.
“A huge proportion of those children booed Glen’s every touch of the ball along with every other black player for Rangers. Tonight shows yet again that Prague has a serious problem with racism and as usual Uefa is nowhere to be seen.”
A dost! Zaměrně šířené nechutné urážky českých dětí v médiích a na internetu do fotbalu nepatří a do dobrých vztahů mezi dvěma zeměmi už vůbec ne. Předvolám si na pondělí britského velvyslance a budu s ním celou záležitost řešit.
— Jakub Kulhanek (@JakubKulhanek) October 1, 2021
The critical words from the world and especially Anwar forced a reply from the Czech Republic officials. Firstly, Sparta Prague released a lengthy statement that condemned the attack on its children. They reiterated that the intention of their children was slandering the player and it was misinterpreted. They called the attacks cowardly and demanded that people should stop attacking their children.
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek was fuming about the children of their country being called out for racist behaviour. He released a Twitter statement and summoned the British ambassador Nick Archer to clarify the issue. He further said these issues might tarnish the relationship between the two countries. The minister took a personal dig at Anwar saying that the lawyer would be debarred in his country for his excessive involvement.
Aamer Anwar retaliated saying, “Maybe his Government should take the opportunity to address the deep-rooted racism that exists in their country.”
With the meeting between the Minister and ambassador to take place next week, the situation is being monitored keenly by UEFA who are preparing to act.
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
The Czech Republic fans have been marked many times for their racist behaviour. Despite repeated warnings over their behaviour, an improvement wasn’t seen. The issue takes a deeper and darker turn when even the players resort to racial abuses.
It all started in the Europa League round-of-16 clash between Sparta Prague and the Rangers in the previous season. They played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg in the Czech Republic before returning to Scotland for the reverse fixture.
With a place in the quarter-finals at stake, the tempers flared in the game. Both sides went for it since the word go and Sparta took the lead early in the game. Later in the second half, Rangers striker Kemar Roofe was sent off for a high flying challenge on Sparta’s goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar. The misery was only compounded more when Leon Balogun was also sent off and Sparta scored again to seal the result.
— Football Scotland (@Football_Scot) March 19, 2021
However, a late challenge from Rangers centre-back Connor Goldson incited a melee between both sides. In the melee, Sparta’s centre-back made his way to Rangers midfielder Glean Kamara and uttered something reportedly racist to him while covering his mouth with a hand. This further fueled the incident as it turned into a full-blown brawl.
UEFA temporarily suspended all the players involved in the brawl while conducting a detailed investigation into the racism incident. Despite denying the “disgusting racism allegations”, the Czech defender was found guilty and was handed a 10 game ban from all UEFA related competitions. It even prevented him from participating in this summer’s Euro 2020.
Still, Kamara’s camp felt that the ban was a very minimal one and was laughing that even Kamara was banned for three games for assaulting Kundela.
The Finnish international Kamara thought that he put the incidents behind him as he was about to travel to Sparta again. Little did he know that he was in for a personal hell yet again.
Come what may, racist behaviour of any kind must not be tolerated. Stand up and act harshly if you want to eliminate the barbaric evil from the beautiful game.