Prague: Sparta Prague have hit out at media reports that Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara was targeted by sections of a crowd comprising mainly schoolchildren during Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League home win.
In March, Finland’s Kamara had complained of being racially abused by Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela during a Europa League tie and the continent’s soccer governing body UEFA banned the Czech defender for 10 games.
Kamara racially abused
Kamara was jeered throughout Thursday’s game at the Letna Stadium, which UEFA had initially ordered closed for the match after Sparta supporters had racially abused Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni in a Champions League qualifier.
It later decided to allow 10,000 children to attend the game against the Scottish champions. The jeering reached its peak in the second half when Kamara was sent off, media reports said.
“It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism,” the Czech club said in a statement.
“Insulting children on the internet and in the media is unacceptable, desperate and ridiculous. Stop attacking our children! Our club will proudly defend our children - our future and our pride. Slandering children on the internet is extremely cowardly.”
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said he would summon Britain’s ambassador on Monday to discuss the issue.
Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office did not respond to a request for comment.
Europa League gallery
“Enough! Intentionally spread, disgusting insults against Czech children in the media and on the internet do not belong to football and even less so to good relations between two countries,” Kulhanek wrote on Twitter.
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said Kulhanek’s government should use the opportunity to “address the deep rooted racism that exists in their country”.
Anwar said Kamara was “saddened at the abuse he received from children”, adding that the midfielder wondered what would have happened if the stadium had adult fans in attendance.
“UEFA in its wisdom decided to give seats to 10,000 schoolchildren in the stadium. Anyone watching the match would have heard a significant proportion of children jeering and booing Glen Kamara every time he touched the ball,” Anwar told Reuters.
“Racism does not happen in isolation, children pick up what happens around them and that is why it was so depressing to watch yet another cycle of prejudice in Prague. I spoke to Glen this afternoon, he says he just wants to get on with playing football... He said he switched off his phone last night due to the racist bile which has not stopped.”
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard initially said after the game that he was not aware of the booing but said on Friday that he heard it when he watched the game again.
“I’m fully aware now, having watched the game back with audio on. I’m actually surprised that I wasn’t aware of it during the game,” Gerrard told reporters.
“I have spoken to Glen Kamara, that conversation will remain private... Glen’s okay, I’m sure he’s disappointed, just like myself. I’ve been told that Rangers are going to take it up with UEFA. I think those wheels are already in motion. I’ll certainly be pushing to make sure that’s the case.”