Football

Football's at a tipping point with racist incidents: Rio Ferdinand

Ex-United skipper says authorities need to make a stand after official allegedly used racist term on Basaksehir's Webo, sparking walk-out by Turkish club, PSG

Former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand says football is at a "tipping point" and those in power must make a stand after Istanbul Basaksehir and Paris Saint-Germain players walked off the pitch amid accusations a match official used a racist term yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The row erupted after Basaksehir assistant coach Pierre Webo, a former Cameroon international, was shown a red card during a fierce row on the touchline with staff from the Turkish club accusing the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, of using a racist term.

That led to the Champions League game at the Parc des Princes stopping in the 14th minute while still goalless, with the players walking off around 10 minutes later.

Goksel Gumusdag, the president of the Turkish champions, said his side refused to restart the game as long as the fourth official was still involved.

Uefa said it will launch a "thorough investigation" into the incident and that the remainder of the match would be played this morning with a new team of match officials taking charge.

This comes days after some fans at Millwall's Championship clash against Derby County booed the players when they took a knee in support of the "Black Lives Matter" movement last Saturday.

"We're at a disturbing tipping point," Ferdinand told BT Sport. "We've got Millwall, the PSG game today, all in the same week. Not a week goes by at the moment without an incident involving race.

"We're at the point now where something needs to be done, we're saying it all of the time, but the powers that be within this game need to make a huge stand."

Television microphones picked up a furious Webo repeatedly asking why a racist term had been used to describe him.

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In the exchange, which was heard on television and translated by an AFP journalist, Coltescu said: "The black one over there. This is not possible. Go and identify him. That guy, the black one."

Basaksehir's Senegal international striker Demba Ba, among the substitutes for the away side, could be clearly heard on television remonstrating with the official.

He said in English: "When you mention a white guy, you never say 'this white guy', you just say 'this guy', so why when you mention a black guy, do you say 'this black guy?'"

The incident sparked a reaction from Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is understood to be closely linked to the owners of the club.

He tweeted: "I strongly condemn the racist remarks... and am convinced Uefa will take the necessary measures."

PSG's players also expressed support. Brazilian star Neymar posted a picture of himself on Twitter alongside the caption: "Black Lives Matter" while teammate Kylian Mbappe tweeted: "Say no to racism. Webo we are with you."

Ex-England and Manchester City defender Micah Richards, meanwhile, told American broadcaster CBS: "The problem with racism, when a racial moment happens, we don't really deal with it, and then we have something that might have been or might not have been, it's two different things. So we can't assume that just because he said that he was being racist.

"Was he being ignorant? Probably. Racist? I'm not sure."

Coltescu told Romanian publication ProSport: "I just try to be good. I'm not going to read any news sites these next few days. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not racist! At least that's what I hope."

With widespread attention now trained on Coltescu and his Instagram account reportedly hacked, Romanian journalist Emanuel Rosu implored on Twitter: "Please consider the fact that Coltescu... is an emotionally fragile person, having tried to take his own life 12 years ago."

He also claimed sources have told him that Webo had referred to the Romanian officials as "gypsies" from the second minute of the match.

PSG have already qualified for the last 16, but they have to beat Basaksehir in the rescheduled fixture to ensure top spot in Group H. - AFP, REUTERS

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