Steven Gerrard revealed Rangers have written to UEFA to complain about the treatment of Glen Kamara in Thursday night’s Europa League defeat to Sparta Prague.
The Ibrox boss reiterated his call for stronger punishments to tackle racism as the situation escalated into a diplomatic row.
Kamara was booed by a crowd of mostly schoolchildren at the match, six months after he was racially abused by Ondrej Kudela of Sparta’s local rivals, Slavia Prague.
Rangers have written to UEFA to complain about the treatment of Glen Kamara on Thursday
Kamara was booed by a crowd mostly consisting of schoolchildren against Sparta Prague
Sparta released a statement in which they claimed ‘unfounded accusations of racism’ were ‘ridiculous’, despite the toxic atmosphere inside the ground.
They were backed by Czech foreign minister Jakub Kulhanek, who said he would summon British ambassador Nick Archer on Monday. Writing on social media, Kulhanek claimed ‘disgusting insults’ aimed at ‘Czech children’ could harm relations between the countries.
However, Piara Powar, executive director of anti-racism group FARE, called for UEFA to kick Sparta out of the Europa League due to their repeat offending.
The Czechs were originally ordered to play Thursday’s match behind closed doors because fans had abused Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni last season.
UEFA instead agreed for children and some guardians to be admitted in a 10,000 crowd, but booing was apparent whenever Kamara – sent off in the second half for two yellow cards – touched the ball.
The midfielder’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said Kamara had been forced to switch off his phone due to ‘racist bile which has not stopped’.
Asked about the situation, Gerrard said: ‘I’m fully aware now, having watched the game back with audio on, and I’m actually surprised I wasn’t aware of it (the booing) during the game.
‘I have spoken to Glen Kamara. That conversation will remain private. Glen’s okay. We watched some football together last night whilst we got some food.
‘I’m sure he’s disappointed like myself. And now I think it’s time for the authorities and the club to step in and just take that away from us so we can focus on the game on Sunday (against Hibernian).
Steven Gerrard has reiterated his calls for UEFA to tackle racism more strongly
‘I’ve been told Rangers are going to take it up with UEFA. I think that’s already happened, those wheels are already in motion. I’ll certainly be pushing in my direction to make sure that’s the case.’
Gerrard admitted he was one of many people who are becoming fed up of calling for tougher steps from European football’s governing body.
‘There’s hundreds and thousands and maybe more people disappointed and frustrated because these things keep raising their head far too often,’ he added.
‘Unfortunately the punishments are not enough. I said last night that there needs to be more done. It’s the only way it’s going to get eradicated, because the punishments are nowhere near severe enough.’
Sparta’s lengthy response took aim at lawyer Anwar and even praised the atmosphere inside the Letna Stadium.
‘It is absolutely unbelievable that, after the match, we must monitor the attacks on innocent children and face unfounded allegations of racism,’ it read.
Kamara was routinely booed during the game and also received a red card in the second half
‘Offending children in the online space and in the media is unacceptable, desperate and ridiculous.
‘Stop attacking our children! Our club will proudly defend children, our future and our pride. Finger pointing at children in the online space is extremely cowardly.
‘Unfortunately, we have to read the desperate attacks of lawyer Aamer Anwar, who is beyond what a lawyer should afford.
‘In the Czech environment, his actions would already be dealt with by the Bar Association. His activist approach and online bullying should be addressed by the relevant institution in Scotland.
‘Inducing xenophobic tendencies and verbal attacks on defenceless children are beyond the reach of morality and decent manners.
‘Finally, on behalf of the club’s board of directors, players, coaches and all employees, we would like to thank the children for their wonderful and unique atmosphere. Thank you, we love you.
‘We ask Rangers FC representatives to help stop the xenophobic atmosphere towards our children, our beautiful country and its people.’
FARE chief Powar told Sky Sports that it was time for UEFA to take the ultimate sanction against Sparta, saying: ‘I think any reasonable observer would have watched that, and as I understand it the BT Sport commentators picked up on it as well, and questioned why this one particular player was picked out.
Sparta Prague released a lengthy club statement of which said ‘stop attacking our children’
‘Then you see the banners that some of the kids were wearing and carrying, and you see the general environment of Sparta Prague and their previous record, and you can see they are defending themselves.
‘They are defending themselves against an even harsher sanction; a sanction which should really mean they are kicked out of the competition.
‘Because, if you are playing a match behind closed doors as a punishment, and then you go and commit the same offence, the sanction has to be that you are kicked out of the competition. There can be no other consideration.’
Kudela, of Sparta’s rivals Slavia, was banned for ten matches after European football’s governing body found him guilty of racially abusing Kamara during a Europa League match at Ibrox in March.
Finnish international Kamara received a three-game suspension himself for an alleged assault on the Czech international in the Ibrox tunnel afterwards.