AC Sparta Praha apologises for racist incident against AS Monaco FC
11 August 2021
The first match between Sparta Prague and AS Monaco in the third preliminary round of the Champions League last week was marred by racist noises from the stands on Tuesday evening. The game was therefore temporarily halted. Sparta Prague apologised in an open letter to Aurélien Tchouaméni and AS Monaco FC.
The Czech crowd’s focal point was French midfielder Aurelien Tchouaméni, who opened the scoreline in Prague ten minutes before half-time. Afterwards, monkey noises could be heard in the stadium.
The footballer and his teammates complained about it to the English referee Michael Oliver, after which he stopped the game for three minutes according to UEFA protocol. The referee decided to restart the match soon after despite strong protests from the Monaco players.
After the match, the AS Monaco player Aurélien Tchouaméni reacted on social media:
‘After a year playing behind closed doors, I was more than happy to renew with a crowd in an official game. It’s the football I know and that I love. I celebrated my goal, same way as usual, while monkey noises were thrown around me.
We decided as a team to respond in the brightest way: on the field. I am proud of my team mates, our coach and our staff for the reaction we had. (…) What happened shall not remain unpunished. And we know the drill. There will be a buzz for one or two days and then we will move on until the next one.
Racism does not belong to Football or to any other place for that matter. Diversity is the most precious thing we have in this world and it makes it beautiful.’
OUR TURN TO BE HEARD ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/XxgkpRuBZc— Tchouameni Aurélien (@atchouameni) August 4, 2021
His coach, AS Monaco coach Niko Kovac expressed his disgust at the incident after the 0-2 away win in Prague.
‘We are all very sad and disgusted that this is still happening in the 21st century. But we won the match and with that we also won from racism.’
‘This has to stop, because football is a way of building bridges. I am very proud of my players because they reacted well. Some of them were angry. I said I understood, but that we were here to play football. I know it hurts and it’s hard to understand the incomprehensible, but we kept going. We won the match. We thus also won from racism.’
‘Sometimes words hurt more than blows. A slap hurts for one day, these words leave a scar. I would like these people to feel what my players felt tonight. That’s why I want to congratulate them for recovering and playing a very good second half, because at half-time I really had to calm them down.’
That, according to Kovac, is the most important message of the evening. ‘And it must also be said that these people were a minority in the stadium. We spoke to the coach of Sparta Prague and the referee at half-time. I told the coach that he was not responsible for it, but we all need respect.’
Sparta Prague apologised to Aurélien Tchouaméni and AS Monaco FC in an open letter.
Hello @AS_Monaco, @atchouameni, we look forward to meeting You. We are coming as a club supporting equality and fighting racism.— AC Sparta Prague (@ACSparta_EN) August 9, 2021
Persons involved in the incident have been identified and will be banned from Sparta matches.
Full statement ➡️ https://t.co/46ZMa7iWxx pic.twitter.com/xwXcDzBItp
‘We state that our Club unanimously condemn any kind of discriminatory behaviour including racism. AC Sparta Praha do not and will not tolerate any kind of such behaviour and endeavour to actively fight against it by all possible means.’
‘We are deeply saddened by the incident that occurred during the game last week. We would like to inform You that thanks to the CCTV recordings and TV recordings the persons involved in the incident have already been identified by the Club, are under the investigation procedure and will be banned from all AC Sparta Praha matches. The investigation procedure will be finalised in a short time. ‘
‘We also want to mention Sparta continuously communicate zero tolerance to any kind of discriminatory behaviour in order to prevent it. We are all equal. We say No To Racism. Football is a game for everyone. We play #equalgame.’
Thanks to TV recordings, Sparta Prague has already managed to track down a number of perpetrators. The culprits are no longer welcome at the Generali Arena. Meanwhile, UEFA is also looking into the matter. The European Football Association has not yet made a decision.