Czech Foreign Minister Demands Apology After “Xenophobic” Tweet From British Footballer
Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek summoned the British Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Nick Archer, requesting an apology for comments made by Scottish Football Association player Marvin Bartley on Twitter earlier this month, and continuing a war of words between the two countries over offensive behaviour related to football. Credit: Vlada.cz.
Czech Rep., Oct 12 (BD) – Last week, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek (ČSSD) summoned British Ambassador Nick Archer to discuss a tweet by a British footballer, which the minister described as “xenophobic”.
The tweet was posted earlier this month by Marvin Bartley, an English player who plays for Scottish club Livingston FC, after racist jeering addressed at Glen Kamara during a Europa League match between Glasgow Rangers and Sparta Prague, held in the Czech capital on September 30th.
Kamara, a Finnish player of Sierra Leone origin, is unpopular among Czech football fans following a high-profile spat with Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela in March, which resulted in both men receiving bans for their conduct and Kudela missing the European Championships. From the start of September’s match, Kamara received racist insults and jeering from the 10,000-strong crowd consisting mostly of children under 14, which increased to cheering when he was sent off for two yellow cards during the game.
In response, Bartley, who advises the Scottish FA on diversity issues, posted a tweet comparing the Czech children to strawberries in a bowl of rotten fruit, arguing that their behaviour is learned from adults in Czech society.
Following Bartley’s tweet, the Czech Foreign Ministry demanded an apology from the Scottish Football Association, with Kulhánek stating, “I understand that a sports match brings various emotions that can be transferred off the pitch; however, even that has its limits and must not turn into xenophobic insults aimed at minors.” The Foreign Minister made no mention of the racist abuse received by Kamara during the game.
In fact, this is not the first time that such scenes have been observed in Prague’s Letna Stadium, and the doors of the stadium should have been closed to fans in relation to another recent incident of racist abuse against a Monaco player. In the end UEFA allowed schoolchildren to attend the match, along with accompanying adults.
Rangers coach Steven Gerrard reacted with anger, criticizing UEFA and Sparta Prague for not doing enough to prevent racism. “I’m not surprised, we have apparently played behind closed doors for a reason. It’s not the first time this has happened here, and not enough has been done.”