Czech Foreign Minister demands Scottish Football Association apologize for racism claims

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek summoned British Ambassador Nick Archer to discuss allegations of racism levelled at Sparta Prague fans.


Written by ČTK Published on 04.10.2021 16:35:00 (updated on 04.10.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) - Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek today asked British Ambassador Nick Archer to tell the Scottish Football Association that the Czech Republic requests an apology or a distancing from its consultant for equality and diversity Marvin Bartley, who described the Czechs as being like "rotten fruit."

Kulhánek said he believes the Scottish Football Association will help calm down the situation. He did not set any deadline for the apology.

The Foreign Minister summoned the British Ambassador over insults made towards Czech children online and in Scottish media after a Europa League football match between Sparta Prague and Glasgow Rangers in Prague last Thursday.

Due to Sparta fans’ previous racist behavior, only children accompanied by adults were allowed to watch the match. But the children repeatedly booed Rangers’ black player Glen Kamara, in scenes widely condemned in the British media, by Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and Kamara’s lawyer.

The SFA’s Marvin Bartley tweeted after the match that "In no way is this the fault of the children because they’re behaving in a way they see adults do/encourage. What chance do they have when placed in a bowl with rotten fruit." Bartley added a picture of rotten strawberries to his tweet.

Kulhánek informed the ambassador that Bartley’s comment caused outrage throughout Czech society. He said sport matches generate various emotions, but must not be allowed to result in xenophobic abuse against children.

The young fans booed Kamara after the Rangers player accused Slavia Prague defender Ondřej Kůdela of racial abuse during a Europa League match in March. After the match, Kamara assaulted Kůdela in the tunnel on their way to their respective locker rooms. Kůdela said he called Kamara names, but did not racially abuse him. UEFA banned Kůdela from ten UEFA games, meaning he could not compete in the European Championship held this summer. Kamara was banned for three UEFA matches for his assault on Kůdela.

Kulhánek said the childrens’ aversion to Kamara had nothing to do with his skin color and resulted only from the spring incident. "There were many players of different nationalities and skin colors on the football pitch last Thursday, and none of them were the target of racist offences," he said.

Kulhánek said Czechia considers Britain its important ally and friend. Nevertheless, he said it is apparent that verbal and sometimes even physical attacks against citizens of Central and Eastern Europe have appeared in the British public space over recent years.

Kulhánek said he and Archer agreed that expressions of racism, xenophobia and other forms of hatred have no place in football and no place in Czech and British society.

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