PSG & Istanbul Basaksehir Controversy Explained
Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League game with Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended on 8th November 2020. The suspension lead after fourth official Sebastian Coltescu referred the Turkish side's assistant coach Pierre Webo, Cameroonian, by his skin color.
Sebastian spoke Romanian, allegedly using the word ‘negru’ to describe Webo. In the language, it translates to the color black, but its closeness to ‘negro’ created a problem.
However, officials were also heard explaining that ‘negru’ is not considered an offensive word in Romanian. What was said by the fourth official was,
The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it's not possible to act like that.
Following an alleged racist slur by the fourth official, Istanbul players walked off the pitch, with PSG players following. The incident took place within the opening 15 minutes.
Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba came forward protesting and was heard saying,
You never say 'this White guy,' you say 'this guy.' So why when mention a Black guy, you have to say 'this Black guy?
While PSG players including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe appeared demanding an explanation. PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe was also heard saying,
Is he serious? We are heading in. We're heading in. That's it, we're heading in.
After the incident, UEFA offered to swap the fourth official and the assistant VAR; however, Istanbul refused to restart the game demanding the fourth referee out of the game completely. Shortly after the incident, many players went on to Twitter tweeting against racism.
On the other hand, Sebastian Cotlescu has not come forward apologizing for the remarks he gave; instead, his conversation with his family was stated as,
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.
Meanwhile, Ionut Stroe, the Romanian Minister for Sport, sent an apology on behalf of Romanian sport. He further added saying,
We strongly condemn any expression or declaration that could be considered racist,
Sport is about completely different things, such as hard work, ambition, and fair play.
I hope this doesn't cause a diplomatic scandal.
As the game was suspended, UEFA later announced that the Champions League Group H match would recommence on Wednesday 9th November 2020.
All the action that happened on the field showed both teams being unified in walking off the pitch and then forcing a change of match officials.
Quotes from James Baldwin,
The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black.