Fifteen minutes into the match, the Champions League soccer game between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended on Tuesday due to allegations of racism directed at Basaksehir’s side assistant coach.
According to players from the Turkish team, fourth official Sebastian Coltescu had used a racial term against assistant coach Pierre Webo, who is Cameroonian. There is corroborating footage of Coltescu speaking in his native Romanian, referring to Webo 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” after he angrily disputed a call.
Soccer is no stranger to racism, especially towards its Black players. They historically have been on the receiving end of such racist taunts like monkey noises from the crowd during games, having banana peels hurled in their direction, and more overt threats of violence broadcast over social media.
UEFA offered to move Coltescu to a different position, but Basaksehir refused, wanting him completely out of the game and refused to restart. Afterward, players — including PSG’s Neymar and Kylian Mbappe— walked off the field, and the game was promptly halted.
Istanbul Basaksehir posted the following message on its Twitter feed regarding the incident: “Our assistant coach, Pierre Webo has been sent off with a ‘racist’ word by the 4th official ref. of the match. Match has stopped for a while.”
PSG tweeted, “Any form of racism goes against the values conveyed by Paris Saint-Germain, its president, its staff, and its players.”
Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan also took to social media and voiced his displeasure via his Twitter account: “I strongly condemn the racist remarks made against Pierre Webo, member of the technical staff of Basaksehir, and I am convinced that UEFA will take the necessary measures.”