World Football

Steven Gerrard: ”I’m Not Surprised.”

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Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said he wasn’t shocked to hear reports that Glen Kamara was targeted by schoolchildren at Sparta Prague – but admitted he had not seen it himself.

Boos were evident whenever Kamara touched the ball, more than any other Rangers player in fact, as Sparta secured a 1-0 Europa League win.

The treatment of the midfielder came five months after Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela was banned for 10 matches having been found guilty by UEFA of racist conduct towards Glen Kamara, who received a three-game ban himself for an alleged assault on the Czech player in the Ibrox tunnel.

Sparta’s stadium was initially scheduled to be shut following a separate racist incident after Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni was subjected to abuse from the crowd last season.

UEFA instead agreed for the game to go ahead instead, in front of mainly school kids, with some accompanying adults as well.

Kamara was then handed his marching orders in the 74th minute with a red card, to huge cheers from the stands, after receiving his second yellow, for what seemed to be a rather harsh call after an aerial challenge.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – MARCH 18: Glen Kamara of Rangers clashes with Ondrej Kudela of Slavia Praha during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Rangers and Slavia Praha at Ibrox Stadium on March 18, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around Europe remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

When asked about the jeers Kamara endured, Gerrard told the press: “During the game, I haven’t been aware. I have obviously been focused on the game and the tactical changes that I was trying to think about to try and get us back in the game as we were trailing.

“If they are facts and that is the truth, then I am extremely disappointed, but not surprised.

“We need the facts, we need confirmation if that’s the truth before I comment. If that was the case and they were targeting Glen, it’s extremely disappointing because the reason there’s a lot of kids in the stadium in the first place is because of previous similar incidents.”

When asked if UEFA should look at the situation, Gerrard said: “There needs to be more done. Not just myself, everyone across the world is asking for more and bigger and better and more extreme punishments in terms of racism. It needs to be eradicated.

“But until the powers that be do more and treat it more seriously, until that happens, we’re going to be dealing with these questions for a longer time.”

Kamara’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, criticised the Czech club, saying in a statement: “I had hoped when I heard of the stadium closure of Sparta Prague that both Glen and other Black players wouldn’t have to put up with any abuse or racism and could just get on with playing football.

“But this evening should be an embarrassment for the Czech side that, despite their fans being banned, it still made little difference that the stadium was filled with 10,000 schoolchildren.

“A huge proportion of those children booed Glen’s every touch of the ball along with every other Black player for Rangers. Tonight shows yet again that Prague has a serious problem with racism and as usual UEFA is nowhere to be seen.

“Glen and the Rangers players have shown total class, but no player should have to face this at their work and on the European stage.”

Jeers were directed towards Kamara only throughout the game, and having evidently been singled out, neither the club nor player has come out to say it was indeed a racist act.

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A 26 year old business management graduate with a flair for words. Football saved my life, so I dedicate a large part of my life to it. I love sport in general & I am obsessed with greatness, genius or anything out of the ordinary.