The Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was abandoned on Tuesday night as both sets of players walked off after fourth official Sebastian Coltescu was accused of racism.
The Group H encounter was suspended midway through the first half after Pierre Webo, Basaksehir’s black assistant manager, vehemently protested a decision on the touchline.
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.
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”.’
Coltescu is a top-flight referee in Romania, but is reportedly officiating in his final European campaign after being demoted by FIFA.
Last 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.’
Pierre Webo (right), Basaksehir’s assistant manager, was livid when he was allegedly identified as ‘the black one over there’ by the fourth official
The fourth official Sebastian Coltescu (above) was accused of using the word ‘negru’ – Romanian for ‘black’ – to identify Webo
Players from PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir gather around fourth official Sebastian Coltescu, whose words were picked up by microphones in the empty Parc des Princes
Players and staff from both teams then got involved, and the Turkish side left the pitch after around 10 minutes of discussions with referee Ovidiu Hategan.
TV footage also showed PSG’s French defender Presnel Kimpembe saying: ‘Is he serious? We are heading in. We’re heading in. That’s it, we’re heading in.’
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.
Istanbul Basaksehir then said on Twitter.’Our players have taken a decision NOT TO go back on the pitch after our Assistant Coach Pierre Webo has been exposed to racist behaviour by the 4th Official.’
There was speculation that the match would restart at 10pm local time but PSG players were left waiting for the Turkish side in the tunnel.
Basaksehir players reportedly refused to restart if Coltescu continued to participate in the match as a VAR (Video Assistant Referee), meaning he would have continued to make crucial decisions away from the touchline.
A new fourth official on the touchline would have required Coltescu to continue as a VAR with UEFA rules demanding two officials be in the video review area. However, there was nobody else to fulfil the role.
The Basaksehir staff heard the fourth official’s comment and immediately objected to the Romanian term ‘negru’, meaning black, which was picked up by microphones
Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba remonstrates with the referee Ovidiu Hategan during the interruption on Tuesday night, watched by PSG players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe who both supported the walk-off protest
PSG’s sporting director Leonardo and Basaksehir’s head coach Okan Buruk were among those who joined in the touchline row
A furious Webo is led away from the touchline by a member of Basaksehir’s backroom staff
Former Chelsea striker Demba Ba (above in jacket) – a substitute for Basaksehir – was furious and confronted the officials
Both sets of players then left the pitch and returned to the dressing room in a united protest
Demba Ba and Marquinhos planned for both teams to walk back out onto the pitch, hand in hand. But a number of Basaksehir players were against the idea and they were later seen leaving the stadium and boarding the team bus to return to their base for the evening.
A UEFA statement later read: ‘Following an incident at tonight’s UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir, UEFA has – after discussion with both clubs – decided on an exceptional basis to have the remaining minutes of the match played tomorrow with a new team of match officials.
‘The kick-off has been set at 18:55CET. A thorough investigation on the incident that took place will be opened immediately.’
Basaksehir players on the team coach back to their hotel. The match will now be concluded on Wednesday with a different set of officials in charge
Parc des Princes stadium workers remove the goalposts from one end of the pitch after the match was suspended
Within minutes of the incident, Basaksehir’s Twitter feed posted a picture of UEFA’s ‘No To Racism’ campaign.
Mbappe later posted ‘SAY NO TO RACISM. XXX M.WEBO WE ARE WITH YOU’ while Neymar tweeted a picture of himself and wrote ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter he believed UEFA would take the necessary steps.
‘We are unconditionally against racism and discrimination in sports and in all areas of life,’ he wrote.
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
Neymar, one of those leading the protests, tweeted a picture of himself and wrote: ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’
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)
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.
‘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.’
Owen Hargreaves commented: ‘The great thing is football players will all stick together. All the boys are from all over the world. You think about Mbappe and Neymar leading the charge here and making the difference.
Speaking about the incident, Rio Ferdinand said football is now ‘at a disturbing tipping point’
‘As players if we can stamp it out we will but Rio made a good point, it is authorities who have got to come down hard on this. Authorities have got to step in and say this is it otherwise it is just going to happen again.’
Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha told French station RMC: ‘What upsets me that the players are the (only) ones to take a stand.
‘Uefa didn’t… Now Uefa are making ultimatums about restarting the match… it’s like they’re in denial… there’s no sign they are ever going to take this problem seriously.’
PSG’s result will have no impact on Manchester United’s elimination from the Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are definitely out of the competition after their defeat by RB Leipzig with PSG’s head-to-head record against United superior.
However, PSG do need to win to take top spot ahead of RB Leipzig.