UEFA launched disciplinary cases against two Romanian match officials on lesser charges on Thursday after suspected racist violence led to a Champions League game being stopped.
On Dec. 8, Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir declined to continue playing because they claimed that fourth official Sebastian Coltescu had racially insulted Pierre Webo, who is Black, the Turkish club’s assistant coach. In a conversation with the other Romanian match officials, television footage showed Coltescu saying ‘negru,’ the Romanian word for black, to describe Webo.
With a new group of match officials brought in from the Netherlands, the game was finished 24 hours later. On Thursday, Romanian media announced that UEFA believed Coltescu was not using the word in a racist or discriminatory manner. UEFA subsequently opened proceedings against Coltescu and the second official, Octavian Sovre, for a possible breach of Article 11 of the Disciplinary Regulations of UEFA.’
This applies to “general principles of conduct,” including acts that are “insulting or otherwise violates the basic rules of decent conduct.” Racism is dealt with under a separate section of the rules and no date for a hearing was given by UEFA.
After players from both sides walked off the pitch following the incident, the match between the two sides was postponed until the following day. The match resumed at 12.55 p.m. ET (6:55 p.m. Paris time) the next day with a fresh group of officials, and PSG won 5-1.
PSG tweeted after the match was halted: “Any form of racism goes against the values conveyed by Paris Saint-Germain, its president, its staff, and its players.”
The decision of the players to walk off the pitch was backed by French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu.
“Tonight, athletes took a historic decision in the face of an attitude they deemed unacceptable,” she wrote at the time on Twitter. “An expression of ordinary racism.”
Webo told BBC Sport following the incident: “We are now going to have the day before Dec. 8 and the day after. It will be remembered. It was a difficult, very tough day. It’s very frustrating. I saw a doctor giving me some sleeping pills. I don’t want people to focus on me… it will be a shame if I’m remembered for this. I’m ashamed of it, to be truthful. These two or three days have been the most difficult of my career.”