14.04.2021 16:06 h

Slavia Prague's Ondrej Kudela gets 10 match ban

UEFA on Wednesday banned Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela for 10 European matches for club and country for racially abusing Rangers' Glen Kamara in a Europa League match.

Finnish international Kamara has been suspended for three matches in UEFA club competitions for an "assault" on Kudela that reportedly took place in the tunnel after the match at Ibrox on March 18.

Kamara's lawyer Aamer Anwar said that handing Kudela the minimum ban for discriminatory behaviour "made a mockery of UEFA's claims on taking racism seriously."

Slavia, who won the match 2-0 to advance to the quarter-finals 3-1 on aggregate, have denied the claims, and said earlier this month they would file a criminal complaint against Kamara for the alleged clash in the tunnel.

In a statement issued via his lawyers, Kudela reiterated his protestation of innocence.

"I am taken aback by the fact that the UEFA disciplinary committee has arrived at a different conclusion than its inspector. He said there was no convincing evidence to support the racism charges against me, which I still reject," said Kudela.

"I am aware it was a mistake to go to Glen Kamara and tell him anything. There were emotions in the game and unfortunately I cannot take this back. I'm very sorry."

Slavia chairman Jaroslav Tvrdik said the Czech champions would respect the decision, although Kudela can still appeal.

"I deeply regret that and apologise to Glen Kamara for a situation that has clearly caused distress to him and his teammates, as well as everyone associated with Slavia and Rangers," Tvrdik said in a statement.

"I am taking positive steps to prevent such a situation from happening in our club ever again."

Kudela was provisionally banned for the first leg of Slavia's quarter-final against Arsenal in London last Thursday. That match will be deducted from the 10-match ban.

The ban is also likely to sideline Kudela from this summer's European Championship where he was expected to have been in Czech Republic's squad.

Kamara and his Rangers team-mates reacted furiously as they claimed Kudela had cupped his hand and whispered a discriminatory slur into the midfielder's ear.

Former Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf said on Wednesday that players should be immediately sanctioned if they cover their mouth while talking to an opponent or the referee, as Kudela did.

Seedorf, a four-time Champions League winner, told a Council of Europe meeting on combatting hate speech: "There is a lot of talk but not enough being done. The need is obvious and very urgent.

"From a players' perspective, I have seen stuff with players speaking and covering their mouth during matches.

"When we're talking about sport it has to be completely transparent, so why would I cover my mouth if I need to talk with my adversary?"