Paris St-Germain v Istanbul Basaksehir: Players walking off a ‘marker’ in fight against racism – Fare chief

PSG v Istanbul Basaksehir
The Istanbul players left the pitch after a long stand-off on the touchline

Istanbul Basaksehir and Paris St-Germain players walking off the pitch will act as a “marker” in football’s fight against racism, says the chief of anti-discriminatory body Fare.

Tuesday’s Champions League tie was abandoned after Istanbul alleged fourth official Sebastian Coltescu used a racist term towards coach Pierre Webo.

They will finish the game on Wednesday.

“It was something very new,” said Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe) executive director Piara Powar.

He told BBC Sport: “We had a group of players who walked off in solidarity with each other. Given the importance of the match, in the most watched club competition in the world, taking place in Paris, the significance can’t really be under-written.

“This is the first time we’ve seen this happen in open play and I think it signifies a marker. Many black players are now saying we may have put up with this in the past and seen things which racialised us unfairly in the past, but now we will take the power we have and use it and walk off, which is within their right.”

Former Cameroon international Webo, an assistant coach at Istanbul, was shown a red card in an exchange on the touchline and then accused the fourth official of using a racial slur towards him.

The incident happened just 14 minutes into the Group H tie, which was still goalless at PSG’s Parc des Princes stadium. Istanbul players walked off the pitch in protest with PSG soon following.

PSG v Istanbul Basaksehir
Pierre Webo was sent off after a row with the fourth official

Uefa has started a disciplinary investigation and Webo’s red card has been “frozen” while the investigation continues, allowing him to take his place on the bench when the match resumes at 17:55 GMT on Wednesday with a new team of match officials.

“This is about people understanding the environment they are going into and doing a little bit of work themselves, understanding what offends different types of people, the power of language and amending their own behaviour accordingly,” Powar added.

“I don’t think the players in the future will take this sort of language quite easily as we saw last night, and as we saw last night they will use the ultimate ability they have to walk off again.

“Uefa are in a difficult position. I think that once they have looked at how they train referees, there isn’t really much more they can do.

“I’m hoping they would offer an apology to the players, this has arisen from match officials appointed by Uefa in a Uefa match.

“Other than that it’s not really an indication of something deeply systemic in football, except the ignorance of an individual who doesn’t know how to officiate in a very international environment with players of African heritage prominent.”

BBC News