The fourth official accused of using racist language towards Istanbul Basaksehir’s assistant coach, sparking a player walk-off, has insisted that ‘anyone who knows me knows I’m not racist’ as he spoke for the first time since the game was suspended.
Romanian Sebastian Coltescu, the fourth official in question, is reported to have said ‘ala negru’ — translating into English as ‘the black guy’ — when asked by referee Ovidiu Hategan which coach needed to be sent off following a touchline incident.
But in a conversation with relatives, which emerged on Wednesday morning in Romanian media, Coltescu has defended his character.
Sebastian Coltescu was accused of using the word ‘negru’ – Romanian for ‘black’ – to identify Istanbul Basaksehir coach Pierre Webo. He has since come out and said that he is not a racist
Webo (right), Basaksehir’s assistant manager, was livid when he was allegedly identified as ‘the black one over there’ by the fourth official
‘I just try to be good,’ he said, according to Romanian outlet ProSport. ‘I’m not going to read any news sites these next few days. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not racist! At least that’s what I hope.’
A UEFA investigation has been launched following the postponement of the match at the Parc des Princes as both sets of players refused to continue midway through the first half.
UEFA said: ‘In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed today to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding the incident.’
While there is little to no precedent of an official being handed a 10-match ban, UEFA said in a statement that ‘a thorough investigation will be opened immediately’ and that Coltescu does face the prospect of a minimum 10-game ban if found guilty of using racist language on the touchline.
Article 3 of UEFA’s disciplinary rules cites both match officials and players — which means they can be punished by the governing body for offences.
Article 14 of UEFA’s code would be used to exact punishment onto the official if he is deemed guilty following the ongoing investigation.
Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba remonstrates with the referee Ovidiu Hategan, watched by PSG players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe who both supported the walk-off protest
That article states: ‘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.’
Coltescu’s alleged remark is said to have been used to refer to Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo.
Webo was shown a red card by referee Hategan before coaches and players from both sides had to be restrained from remonstrating with the fourth official.
As the referee came over, footage appeared to show Coltescu identifying Webo by saying: ‘The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that’.
It is believed Coltescu said ‘negru’, the Romanian word for black.
A furious Webo heard this and immediately accused Coltescu of racism. He had to be restrained by other members of the coaching staff as he was shown a straight red card.
Players from PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir angrily gather around officials on the touchline
Ex-Chelsea striker Demba Ba, a substitute for the Turkish side, charged in the direction of Coltescu to question why he had used the word to identify Webo.
He said: ‘You never say ‘this white guy’, you say ‘this guy’, so why when you’re mentioning him… listen to me… why when you mention a black guy, why do you say ‘this black guy’.’
Ionut Stroe, the Romanian Minister for Sport, reportedly sent ‘apologies on behalf of Romanian sport,’ on Tuesday night.
‘We strongly condemn any expression or declaration that could be considered racist,’ the minster added.
‘Sport is about completely different things, such as hard work, ambition and fair play. I hope this doesn’t cause a diplomatic scandal.’
Coltescu is a top-flight referee in Romania, but is reportedly officiating in his final European campaign after being demoted by FIFA.
On Tuesday night he apologised, saying: ‘Sorry for the misunderstanding. My intention was never racism.
‘In such an environment, people sometimes cannot express their feelings correctly and can be misunderstood. I apologise on behalf of the UEFA Champions League. I hope you understand.’
Both sets of players then left the pitch and returned to the dressing room in a united protest
The Instagram account of Coltescu, accused of racially abusing Istanbul Basaksehir assistant coach Webo, has apparently been hacked with Webo’s face made the profile picture
THE NEW REFEREEING TEAM
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Ned)
Assistant refs: Mario Diks (Ned), Marcin Boniek (Pol)
Fourth official: Bartosch Frankowsky (Pol)
VAR: Marco Di Bello (Ita)
AVAR: Maurizio Mariani (Ita)
Reserve assistant ref: Jacub Winkler (Pol)
Such was the outrage at the incident, Colltescu apparently had his Instagram account hacked.
His profile picture was replaced by an image of Webo, whom Coltescu allegedly identified by using the word ‘negru’, the Romanian word for black. The hackers, who appeared to be Turkish, also changed the Romanian referee’s biography to include a ‘No to Racism’ hashtag.
PSG stars Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Marquinhos were all seen on the touchline in discussion with Coltescu. Basaksehir coach Okan Buruk could be heard yelling ‘you are racist’ to Coltescu.
PSG players immediately followed their Turkish counterparts down the tunnel with the game at Parc des Princes suspended at 0-0.
After a lengthy delay, the game was called off and the remaining minutes will now be played on Wednesday at 6:55pm local time with a new refereeing team in charge led by Holland’s Danny Makkelie.
Speaking during BT Sport’s Champions League coverage, Rio Ferdinand said: ‘We are at a disturbing tipping point.
‘Millwall, now this, in the same week, not a week goes by without an incident involving race, something needs to be done, the powers that be need to make a stand.
Within minutes of the incident, Basaksehir posted a picture of UEFA’s ‘No To Racism’ campaign
Kylian Mbappe posted a message of support to the Basaksehir assistant manager later on
‘Showing unity [by the players] is a start, but it cannot be left to players. It is not clear and it is hard to make a judgement and put your flag in the sand and say ‘this is what happened’.
‘We need the guys who are there to come out and speak and give their account of the story. It is something that needs sorting out. It is something that needs to be addressed certainly. There has to be something put down to show those are the rules.’
Paul Scholes added: ‘It is about time a stance was made. Obviously everything we are hearing now is alleged, and if something has happened and clearly something has happened, the players walked off which is good.’