Czech President Zeman condemns UEFA's verdict against Slavia Prague's Kúdela in racial slur case

The chancellor of the President's Office sent a letter to UEFA saying the allegations of racism were not proven.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 16.04.2021 13:32:00 (updated on 16.04.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Prague Castle website has published a letter sent to the UEFA’s disciplinary commission, claiming that accusations of racial bullying against Slavia Prague football player Ondřej Kúdela were unproven and the resulting 10-game ban was unjustified.

President’s Office chancellor Vratislav Mynář, who wrote the letter, said that Czech President Miloš Zeman has been informed in detail about the case and considers it “important not only from the sports point of view, but also from the point of view of justice and human dignity.”

“He has expressed his sympathy to all citizens of the Czech Republic who follow this case and are disappointed by it. At the same time, he wishes all players and fans not to be discouraged by this affair and supports them in their efforts to root for their team open-heartedly,” Mynář wrote.

At the close of the Europa League round-of-16 match in Glasgow against Rangers FC four weeks ago, Kúdela ran toward Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara and whispered something to him. Kúdela denied that the comment contained a racial slur, though witnesses from the Rangers said they heard Kúdela call Kamara, who was born in Finland but has of Sierra Leonean descent, an “f*ing monkey.” Kúdela claims he said “f*ing guy.”

“I can see now that it was a mistake to go to Glen Kamara and say anything to him. There were emotions during the match and I cannot take it back, unfortunately. I feel very sorry about it," Kúdela later said.

UEFA announced the 10-game ban for the comment on April 14. Kúdela has said he is considering an appeal in cooperation with lawyers from the firm of Urban & Hejduk, which acknowledged receiving a 130 page file and 10 minutes of video. A 10-game ban is the minimum for racial abuse in UEFA's disciplinary code.

A Slavia Prague statement claimed that Kúdela was subsequently assaulted by Kamara after the end of the game, and that the team was blocked from entering the dressing room. Kamara received a three-game ban for the assault.

Miloš Zeman at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 27, 2019 via Wikimedia / Presidential Press and Information Office
Miloš Zeman at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 27, 2019. (Photo: Wikimedia / Presidential Press and Information Office)

Mynář in his objection to penalty given to Kúdela says that Slavia played a better game, and the cries of racism have no basis.

“A lot has happened in the aforementioned match. SK Slavia Praha played a fair, high quality match, and dominated the game. The opponent's response was a deceitful game full of fouls, one of which ended in a serious injury of Slavia’s goalkeeper Ondřej Kolář,” Mynář wrote, recounting that Kolář suffered a skull fracture and the Czech players were attacked inside the stadium after the game.

He added that the player responsible for the skull fracture was banned from four matches and another Ranger FC player received a three-match ban for a physical attack, while Kúdela got a 10-game ban. He does not mention that the person banned for the physical attack was Kamara.

“I would like to emphasize that racism has not been proven and remains alleged. Even the UEFA inspector himself doubted whether Ondřej Kúdela had made a racist statement. Yet, you have decided on a completely unprecedented punishment for a player who did not harm anyone physically, but only verbally – according to his own statement – offended his opponent,” he wrote.

“You have condemned a decent person without a single piece of evidence You make it impossible for athletes to fulfill their dreams to play in the European League,” Mynář wrote.

He added this is was done to satisfy “perverted expectations of a small group of activists” and a losing team that is shouting “empty and hurtful phrases about racism.”

He went on to claim the decision set a bad precedent. “It has become the pinnacle of hypocrisy, positive discrimination, and embarrassing pandering to silly trends. Your efforts can lead to the opposite, i.e. a situation where a person with a skin color other than black is discriminated, oppressed, and deprived of his/her rights. Therefore, I consider it necessary to oppose your decision,” he wrote.

He added that the broad Czech public does not agree with the ban.

“You managed to unite old rivals – even temporarily. We will not kneel down in front of you. No threats work against a Czech football fan,” he said.

Unless the ban is overturned quickly, Kúdela will miss the Czech Republic's games at the European Championship. “If the sanction for Euro remains, our team would of course be considerably weakened,” Czech national team coach Jaroslav Šilhavý said.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more