Sparta bans fans from matches following Czech football's latest racism scandal

During Sparta Prague’s Champion League match with Monaco last Tuesday, Monaco accused Sparta fans of aiming racist remarks at its striker.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 10.08.2021 12:52:00 (updated on 10.08.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech football has been hit by another racism scandal, with Sparta Prague banning fans who racially abused AC Monaco striker Aurelien Tchouameni during a recent Champions League qualifying match.

Coming after the huge controversy which engulfed Sparta’s Prague rivals Slavia during a Europa League tie with Scottish club Rangers last season, the incident has again highlighted Czech football’s ongoing problem with racism.

During Sparta Prague’s Champions League third-round qualifying tie with Monaco last Tuesday, Monaco coach Niko Kovač and a number of the team’s players complained to the referee about Sparta fans’ racist treatment of Tchouameni, after the Monaco striker scored a goal. The fans were warned that Sparta would lose the match by default if they continued their racist abuse.

After former team captain David Lafata pleaded with the fans at halftime, Sparta went on to lose the game 2-0. Current captain Bořek Dočkal also spoke to the offending fans after the match.

With UEFA launching proceedings against Sparta last Thursday, the club faces a fine and even the partial or complete closing of its stadium to fans as a result of the incident.

The club has now identified supporters who directed monkey chants and similar racist expressions at Tchouameni using CCTV analysis. While banning these fans from future Sparta matches, the club has also filed a criminal complaint against them.

With the second leg of the Champions League qualifying tie taking place tonight, Sparta has addressed a statement to Monaco and Tchouameni saying the club is “coming to you as a team and a club which is actively fighting discrimination and racism”.

“We are deeply saddened by the incident,” the club continued. “Thanks to our security systems, those responsible have been identified, and in the near future they will be banned from entering all Sparta Prague football matches.”

“Sparta has long been against racism and all other types of discrimination. And we will continue with our preventive campaigns,” the statement added.

The latest actions of Sparta fans follow a string of incidents that have highlighted the pressing need to tackle racism in Czech football. Only last week, Sparta was fined for racist taunts directed at SK Sigma Olomouc’s Florent Poulolo during the opening league match of the season on July 24.

Racism in Czech football also made international headlines earlier this year, when Rangers players accused Slavia Prague’s Ondřej Kůdela of racially abusing Glen Kamara, a Finnish national of Sierra Leonean descent.

A day after the incident, a group of Slavia fans posted an image of themselves holding a banner with a racist message directed at Kamara, leading to widespread condemnation and calls for the club to be kicked out of the Europa League.

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