Fuelled by anti-immigrant rhetoric, racism still serious issue in Czech stands

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During a Champions League qualifier in August, Sparta fans aimed monkey chants at Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni when he scored.

UEFA then banned supporters for Sparta’s stadium for a Europa League game against Rangers, although it allowed some 10,000 children to attend.

However, the schoolchildren booed Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, who was allegedly the victim of racist abuse from Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela a few months earlier.

Rangers asked UEFA to act, claiming the booing was racially motivated, but UEFA dropped the investigation over “insufficient evidence” last week.

However, questions about the Czech approach to racism from football supporters persist.

Sparta spokesman Ondrej Kasik told AFP the club “took certain repressive measures aimed at specific people… including a criminal complaint” after the Monaco game.

Sparta also sent an open letter to Tchouameni to apologise, but its fans were unimpressed — a month later, they poured racist chants onto Viktoria Plzen’s black players, earning their club a fine from the Czech Football Association.

– Security threat –

While Czech football authorities did not comment on the issue, football pundit Ludek Madl from the Seznam Zpravy news website said they took a lukewarm approach to racism.

“Every time there is a remarkable problem with racism, everyone stands up to formally condemn it and some fines are imposed, though not really substantial,” he told AFP.

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