Steven Gerrard calls for ‘more extreme punishments’ to tackle racism, with Glen Kamara being targeted again after thousands of schoolchildren booed him – as the midfielder’s lawyer insists Sparta Prague should be ASHAMED
- Rangers midfielder was routinely booed and then sent off during the 1-0 defeat
- Ondrej Kudela of Sparta’s rivals Slavia was banned for racially abusing Kamara
- Letna Stadium was meant to be shut following a separate racist charge
- UEFA instead agreed for the game to go ahead in front of mainly schoolchildren
Steven Gerrard has called for ‘more extreme punishments’ to tackle racism after Glen Kamara was routinely jeered by thousands of children during Rangers’ 1-0 defeat to Sparta Prague.
The Europa League clash was originally ordered to be played behind closed doors because Sparta fans abused Monaco’s Aurelius Tchouameni last season.
UEFA instead agreed to allow a 10,000 crowd of mostly schoolchildren, but booing could be heard any time Kamara touched the ball and the Finland midfielder was later sent off for picking up two yellow cards.
Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara was routinely booed and then sent off at Sparta Prague
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar described the jeering as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘shameful’, coming just months after the player was the victim of vile racist abuse from Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela at Ibrox – with the Czech defender subsequently banned for ten games by UEFA. Kamara was banned for three games for assaulting Kudela in the tunnel afterwards.
Asked about Kamara being targeted again on Wednesday night, Gerrard said it highlighted the need for authorities to take the issue of racism far more seriously.
‘To be honest with you I’ve just been asked the question,’ Gerrard said. ‘During the game I haven’t been aware, I’ve just been focussed on the game and the tactical changes I was trying to think about to try to get us back in the game as we were trailing.
‘If they’re facts and that is the truth and the case then I’m extremely disappointed – but not surprised.
‘What I’m saying is we need the facts. We need confirmation if that’s the truth or not the truth before I comment.
‘But if that’s the case and they were targeting Glen it’s extremely disappointing because the reason there’s a lot of kids in the stadium is because of previous similar incidents. So of course it’s extremely disappointing if the fact is that was the case.
‘There needs to be more done. Not just myself but everyone across the world is asking for more and bigger, better and more extreme punishments in terms of racism. It needs to be eradicated.
‘But until the powers that be do more and treat it more seriously – until that happens – we’re going to be dealing with these questions for a long time.’
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has called for ‘more extreme punishments’ to tackle racism
Kamara’s lawyer Anwar claimed the latest incident should be a source of deep embarrassment for Sparta.
‘I had hoped when I heard of the stadium closure of Sparta Prague that both Glen and other black players wouldn’t have to put up with any abuse or racism and could just get on with playing football,’ he said.
‘But this evening should be an embarrassment for the Czech side that, despite their fans being banned, it still made little difference that the stadium was filled with 10,000 schoolchildren.
‘A huge proportion of those children booed Glen’s every touch of the ball along with every other black player for Rangers. Tonight shows yet again that Prague has a serious problem with racism and as usual UEFA is nowhere to be seen.
‘Glen and the Rangers players have shown total class, but no player should have to face this at their work and on the European stage.’
Despite Sparta and Slavia being rivals, a young supporter was photographed with a banner reading ‘Kudela Team’ at the Letna Stadium last night.
With Rangers already a goal down to David Hancko’s 29th-minute header, Kamara was booked just before half-time for a foul. He was then shown a second yellow card in the 74th minute for raising an arm in an aerial challenge.
UEFA allowed 10,000 schoolchildren with some accompanying adults to watch the Euro tie
Meanwhile, following last night’s defeat in Prague, Gerrard predicted that Rangers need to take six points from their double-header with Brondby if their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Europa League for a third straight season are to remain alive.
‘We need a reaction going into the Brondby game,’ said the Ibrox boss, whose team lost their first match at home to Lyon. ‘We need to take maximum points to give ourselves an outside chance.
‘I’m disappointed with the scoreline, obviously. I’m disappointed that we’ve got off to the start that we have in the group. Losing two games is not ideal.
‘I think the next game is a must win now. We have to win the next game against Brondby to give ourselves an outside chance.
‘In terms of the performance, I thought Sparta maybe just edged it in terms of chances. But I was really pleased with the boys especially when we went to 10 men.
‘I felt we threw caution to the wind and tried our best to try and rescue a point. It wasn’t to be and unfortunately we’ve lost the boxes tonight.’
Gerrard bemoaned the manner in which his side conceded from a corner just as it looked like they were starting to settle into the match.
Sparta Prague’s Slovakian defender David Hancko scored the only goal in the first-half
‘They’ve had one good chance off a set play which we’ll need to look at,’ he said, after confirming that Juninho Bacuna is a doubt for Sunday’s game with Hibs after suffering a thigh injury.
‘We’ve had two very similar chances and unfortunately we haven’t taken them. Right until the death, we’d some good set piece opportunities but unfortunately we just couldn’t get that important goal to rescuer a point.’
Skipper James Tavernier felt the team were undone by minor details.
‘It’s disappointing not to get at least a point,’ he said. ‘These are games of moments and they took their moment in the first half from the corner. We had a great chance in the first half from a corner. These are the small details in these games that we need to improve on.’
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