Skip to content

Jose Mourinho says PSG, Istanbul Basaksehir walk-off an 'iconic' moment in fight against racism

Champions League match abandoned after both teams walk off; UEFA investigating after play was halted when Pierre Webo, Basaksehir's assistant coach, was sent off; Turkish club accused the Romanian fourth official of making a racist remark

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jose Mourinho believes both PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir players choosing to walk off the pitch together following an alleged racist comment from an official creates a powerful statement in the fight against racism

Jose Mourinho believes Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir players walking off and their Champions League match being postponed because of an alleged racist incident could be an "iconic" moment in the fight against racism.

Players from both teams walked off the pitch at the Parc des Princes after Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu was accused of using a racist term when identifying Basaksehir's assistant coach, Pierre Webo, during an incident in the 14th minute of the match.

Webo was shown a red card during a heated exchange on the touchline and the match was later suspended, with the game rescheduled for Wednesday with a new team of match officials.

Mourinho admits he is disappointed to see another allegation of racism in football but hopes the match will prove to be a defining moment in the sport's fight against discrimination.

"It's a very sad situation and every form of racism has to be fought. It's never accepted. I'm very sad because we don't want that in football," said the Tottenham head coach.

"I personally know the referee, Ovidiu Hategan. Good guy, very good referee. To be involved indirectly in a game that will become quite iconic is not a nice thing.

"The fourth official, only he can express his feelings. Of course he made an unacceptable mistake but only he can open his heart, apologise and accept the consequences. Probably he is a very good referee.

Also See:

"Everyone in football and society, we have our responsibilities in relation to these situations and if we make mistakes, we have to accept the responsibilities.

"But more important for me is that that game becomes quite iconic. Champions League, to stop after 15 minutes for a very sad reason, will become iconic and hopefully, in the future, never happens again.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Kick it Out Chair Sanjay Bhandari says it is encouraging that both PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir players felt empowered to walk off following the alleged racist remark from a match official during their UEFA Champions League match

"But as a football guy, I'm very, very sorry that in my industry, that situation happened."

Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari said he is "saddened" and "deeply disturbed" by the allegations against the fourth official but praised the players for their actions in defence of Webo, who is set to take his place on the bench for Wednesday's match after having his red card rescinded.

"I think the heartening thing was the reaction of both sets of players walking off the pitch," Bhandari told Sky Sports News.

"We saw this a few weeks ago in the United States, with Landon Donovan leading his team off the pitch.

"I think that genie is out of the bottle. We saw Darren Lewis on one of your programmes on Sunday talking about that and encouraging the players, that if they face that kind of abuse… your obligation is not to just stay there and entertain.

"You can use your power to walk off the pitch. I think the players did the right thing and in future they'll feel more confident to do that if something similar happens again."

UEFA released a statement on Wednesday confirming an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation into the incident, and Bhandari is hopeful appropriate sanctions will be imposed if racist language is found to have been used.

"I think we have to let the process take its course and hopefully they'll do a thorough investigation and there will be appropriate sanctions," added Bhandari.

"This is a slightly different one. Normally when we're having these sort of conversations we're talking about a club, or a set of fans, or an international federation.

"Quite often there we feel that there isn't the confidence that there is an appropriate sanction. I've certainly been active in suggesting that we ought to change the way in which we articulate those sanctions.

"Rather than saying it's £10,000, or £50,000, we should do it as a percentage of turnover or gate receipts, so that it's easier then to compare. Obviously in this case it's going to be very different because it's a match official. It's probably a really unusual situation.

"Even if this person didn't get a life ban, say they got a ban with some education, I'm not sure how easy it would be for that person to officiate again and whether the players would accept that."

Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu (2nd-L) looks on next to Istanbul Basaksehir's French forward Demba Ba (2nd-R) and Paris Saint-Germain Brazilian forward Neymar (1st-R) during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 8, 2020. - Paris Saint-Germain's decisive Champions League game with Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended on December 9 in the first half as the players
Image: Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu (second from left) was confronted by Basaksehir's Demba Ba

PSG-Basaksehir fourth official faces 10-match ban if guilty

The fourth official at the centre of the walk-out protest staged by Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday night is facing at least a 10-match ban if found guilty of using racist language by a UEFA disciplinary investigation.

Romanian official Sebastian Coltescu was accused of using alleged racist language towards Basaksehir assistant manager Pierre Webo in an incident which halted the Champions League game and led to the fixture being postponed to Wednesday.

Article 14 of UEFA's latest edition of discipline measures and procedures states that "any person under the scope of Article 3 who insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons on whatever grounds, including skin colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation, incurs a suspension lasting at least 10 matches or a specified period of time, or any other appropriate sanction."

Article 3 states that all match officials are subject to article 14 rules, as well as all clubs and their officials, all players and all UEFA officials.

If found guilty, Coltescu would therefore miss a minimum of 10 matches in European competitions, or any other punishment which UEFA deems appropriate.

Rodgers, Lennon back players over walk-off

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers and Celtic boss Neil Lennon have also expressed their support for the players and their decision to walk off the pitch.

"I thought it was absolutely the right thing to do because if you're going to make a stand against this type of behaviour then there needs to be drastic action," said Rodgers.

"I think it was really good that both sets of players and obviously management came together.

"We can't tolerate that type of behaviour and of course, if it comes from officials as well then that doesn't sit right as well, so I take my hat off to the players and everyone involved and is something I definitely support."

Lennon added: "Certainly, if it upset one of my players or staff the way it did with the Istanbul players last night then absolutely - I would do the same. There is no room for it at all.

"As officials and managers we have to be aware of a duty of care to the players as individuals and also an awareness of what can be a very sensitive situation at times."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

French football journalist Jonathan Johnson says PSG star Kylian Mbappe helped to stage a walk-off with Istanbul Basaksehir after both teams left the pitch following an alleged racist slur by the fourth official in their Champions League match

'Mbappe helped in Basaksehir walk-out'

French football journalist Jonathan Johnson, who was at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night, said that Paris Saint-Germain players were quick to pick up the gravity of the situation and stand in solidarity with their opponents.

Johnson told Sky Sports News the involvement of both clubs' squads and staff in the incident was "extremely powerful" as high-profile players such as Kylian Mbappe and Neymar came out to reiterate there is no room for racism in the game.

"I don't think you could argue against the power of the images that we've seen," Johnson said. "You look at the way the Basaksehir players were very quick to come to the defence of their assistant coach.

"Demba Ba played an absolutely key role in that, but I would also say that there were players in the PSG team like Kylian Mbappe and Presnel Kimpembe who took the accusations very seriously and quickly and made it clear that they would be joining Basaksehir in leaving the pitch."

Johnson added the fact the alleged racist comment came from an official is "massively damaging" and says the visiting team's players had no intention to come back out after the interruption.

"The lack of communication from UEFA in the hours after the incident only led to the controversy surrounding all of this," he said.

"The fact that it's come from somebody who has that sort of power in a match, as opposed to one of the players or fans in the stadiums - which is obviously not possible at this moment in time because of the coronavirus situation - is hugely damaging.

"It's my understanding in the stadium on the night that there was no way that the teams would come back to the pitch and play with the current team of officials in place."

What is expected of UEFA officials?

Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes...

UEFA and in particular their officials are under the spotlight as Sebastian Coltescu's alleged behaviour is now the subject of a thorough investigation by his employers.

It's not simple to become a UEFA official. As you would expect the men and women selected from National Associations across the continent are the best of the best.

UEFA give them the tools to their job. There are two conference meetings a year, one in winter and one prior to a start of a season, while ongoing dialogue flows between UEFA's refereeing hierarchy and the officials.

While a comprehensive understanding of the laws of the game, interpretation and implementation for officials is clear from reading through various UEFA publications, along with a Code of Conduct which focuses on betting and match fixing, you have to delve into UEFA's General Terms and Conditions to find out a little more.

While not specifically referencing language, cultural sensitivities or race, the behaviour expected of a UEFA official is clear.

UEFA say that match officials "must refrain from any action whatsoever which could be of an unsporting nature and/or contrary to UEFA's interests", and that they must "behave in a professional and appropriate manner before, during and after any UEFA match for which they have been appointed."

The Conditions also state that "match officials undertake to apply and respect the Laws of the Game published by FIFA as well as UEFA's Statutes, regulations, directives, decisions, instructions and circular letters," with UEFA also adding that "any breach by match officials and/or national associations of these General Terms and Conditions or of the UEFA's Statutes, regulations, directives, decisions, instructions or circulars letters could result in proceedings being opened by UEFA's disciplinary bodies."

UEFA have long stated they have a zero tolerance stance to racism. Current FIFA President Gianni Infantino said so when he was UEFA General Secretary, while current UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, one month after being elected to UEFA's top job in 2016, said "racism, discrimination and intolerance have no place in football... I believe strongly that we must stand up to racism and all forms of discrimination, and I am proud of the work done by UEFA and our partners in tackling these issues."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari says Millwall helped to create 'cohesion and unity' with their anti-racism message ahead of their match against QPR

Bhandari pleased with Millwall support

There were more positive scenes at The Den on Tuesday night, as Millwall supporters applauded their players for displaying an anti-racism message ahead of their match against QPR.

In contrast to Saturday's game against Derby, there were no boos heard as QPR players and match officials took a knee ahead of kick-off, although the home side opted not to take the knee.

Both sets of players also linked arms and held aloft a banner which said 'Inequality' with the 'In' crossed out, as a show of solidarity against racism and other social injustices.

Millwall also wore Kick It Out's logo on their matchday shirts in place of one of their main sponsors and Bhandari was pleased with the support shown by the Championship club.

"Probably like the rest of the world we were all holding our breath and hoping that the fans would respect what was going on, on the pitch," he said.

"I was pleased to see that there was applause and cheers. Ultimately what do we want to create with this? We want to create unity and cohesion.

"It may be a different message to what other clubs are using, it may be different to taking the knee, but ultimately they've got all the club behind it.

"They've got the fans and the players, and it was really important that the players were part of this.

"What we wanted to create was the ability for the players to protest in a way in which they felt comfortable and free from the risk of sanction."

Bhandari added: "QPR haven't been taking the knee but decided to last night. That's a free choice.

"What I would rather us focus on is, this created some cohesion and unity and that's actually what we're after."

Win £250,000 for free on Tuesday!

Win £250,000 for free on Tuesday!

Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 in Tuesday's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3:00pm.

Around Sky