The Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir got back underway on Wednesday after the encounter was abandoned 24 hours earlier following allegations of racism aimed at fourth official Sebastian Coltescu.
The Group H match was suspended midway through the first half on Tuesday after Pierre Webo, Basaksehir’s black assistant manager, was allegedly racially abused while vehemently protesting a decision on the touchline.
The incident sparked outrage among players from both PSG and Basaksehir before they returned to the dressing room and refused to finish the game until Coltescu had been removed from refereeing duties.
Pierre Webo (right), Basaksehir’s assistant manager who was allegedly racially abused on Tuesday night, was back as the game against PSG concluded
Both teams came together in around the centre circle to take the knee as the Champions League theme played out
Both sets of players take the knee at Parc des Princes before the re-arranged game started
Like Tuesday night’s refusal to play, the players came together to protest racism in football
PSG fans had placed a banner in the stands at the empty stadium that praised their players
Kylian Mbappe (L) and Neymar (R) wear ‘No To Racism’ t-shirts as they warm up for the game
A new team of officials was brought in by UEFA to oversee the fixture and play is now up and running again at Parc des Princes.
In emotional scenes before play restarted, both sets of players wore ‘No To Racism’ t-shirts to warm up in while Webo was also seen wearing one as he watched on.
The players then gathered in the centre circle and took the knee in protest while the famous Champions League anthem played out.
PSG fans had placed a banner in the stands at the empty stadium that read: ‘Support to Mr. Webo… Proud of the players… Against racism. Paris united against racism’.
PSG showed their class as they raced into a three-goal lead inside the remaining first-half minutes with Neymar scoring twice and Kylian Mbappe notching from the penalty spot.
Thomas Tuchel’s side thought they had added another before the interval but it was ruled out by the VAR (Video Assistant Referee).
Play got back underway with the score 0-0 during the first half of the European encounter
Neymar gave the French giants the lead with a superb individual goal after 21 minutes
The controversial incident took place early on in the first half on Tuesday.
As referee Ovidiu Hategan came over to the touchline, 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 and staff from both teams then got involved, and the Turkish side left the pitch after around 10 minutes of discussions with referee 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.’
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
PSG stars Neymar, 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.
As reported by French outlet RMC Sport, Webo’s red card was suspended by UEFA and he could be seen on the touchline on Wednesday.
Coltescu is a top-flight referee in Romania, but is reportedly officiating in his final European campaign after being demoted by FIFA.
In a conversation with relatives, which emerged on Wednesday morning in Romanian media, Coltescu defended his character.
‘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.’
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
A furious Webo is led away from the touchline by a member of Basaksehir’s backroom staff
Basaksehir players reportedly refused to restart on Tuesday night if Coltescu continued to participate in the match as a VAR, 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.
Such was the outrage at the incident, Coltescu 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.
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
Former Liverpool star John Barnes came out in defence of Coltescu, insisting to his followers that he believed the official did nothing wrong, and was only fulfilling his duties of passing information on to the referee.
When told by one user on Twitter that there are many ways to identify somebody without referring to their race, Barnes snapped back: ‘If they are the ONLY white person in a room or group… THEY ARE… how else would YOU describe the ONLY white person or BLACK person in a group?’
Furthering his point, Barnes went on to outline his belief that the official would have acted likewise had the coach he was trying to point out been white.
Barnes added: ‘[Demba] Ba said if he was white u wouldnt say white guy… but if there were 5 black coaches and 1 white coach .. he would have said “the white one”… what else could or should he say?’
John Barnes suggested on Twitter the official was merely pointing out which coach he meant
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)
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.
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.
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 on Tuesday with PSG’s head-to-head record against United superior.
However, PSG do need to win to take top spot ahead of RB Leipzig.