UEFA will not open a disciplinary case against Sparta Prague after finding insufficient evidence of discriminatory behaviour in their Europa League match with Rangers.

The game, won 1-0 by the Scottish champions, was originally due to be played behind closed doors following the racist abuse of Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni in August but around 10,000 school children and accompanying adults were allowed to attend.

The contest was marred by the booing of Rangers' black players, with Glen Kamara seemingly subjected to particularly vocal taunts.

Last March, UEFA ruled Kamara had been the victim of a racist slur from Ondrej Kudela in Rangers' fixture against Sparta's Czech rivals Slavia Prague.

However, following an investigation by a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector, European football's governing body said no further action would be taken.

A statement confirmed: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector was appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents which allegedly occurred during the 2021-22 UEFA Europa League group stage match between AC Sparta Prague and Rangers FC played on September 30, 2021.
 
"The investigation has now concluded that there was insufficient evidence of racism or discriminatory conduct at the match to warrant the opening of disciplinary proceedings against AC Sparta Prague."

After the game, Sparta issued a statement to insist any allegations of racism were unfounded.

"It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism," the club said. 

"You are describing the behaviour of children incorrectly, arrogating to yourself the right to judge the expression of emotions of six-year-old children who have no idea what racism is. It's an impertinence."

UEFA has launched an investigation into alleged "discriminatory incidents" in Sparta Prague's Europa League clash with Rangers.

The fixture, which the Scottish Premiership champions won 1-0, was originally due to be played behind closed doors following the racist abuse of Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni in August but around 10,000 school children and accompanying adults were allowed to attend.

The match last Thursday was marred by the booing of Rangers' black players, with Glen Kamara seemingly subjected to particularly vocal taunts.

Last March, UEFA ruled Kamara had been the victim of a racist slur from Ondrej Kudela in Rangers' fixture against Sparta's Czech rivals Slavia Prague.

European football's governing body said in a statement on Tuesday: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents allegedly occurring during the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League group stage match between AC Sparta Praha and Rangers FC played on 30 September 2021."

Following the fixture, Gers boss Steven Gerrard called for harsher punishments to tackle incidents of racism.

"Sadly, these things keep raising their head far too often and, unfortunately, the punishments are not severe enough," Gerrard said.

Sparta released a statement in response, claiming that the actions of the children watching had been misunderstood and that allegations of racism were wide of the mark.

"It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism," the statement said. 

"You are describing the behaviour of children incorrectly, arrogating to yourself the right to judge the expression of emotions of six-year-old children who have no idea what racism is. It's an impertinence."

Steven Gerrard called for tougher punishments to tackle racism after Glen Kamara was booed during Rangers' 1-0 defeat against Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

The midfielder was the subject of what UEFA declared to be "racist behaviour" by Ondrej Kudela, who plays for neighbouring Slavia Prague in April, before being subjected to more reported abuse in Thursday's game.

The crowd was restricted to children and their chaperones after Sparta were sanctioned by UEFA for racially abusing Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, but Gerrard admitted he could hear the booing after watching a replay of the game.

"I'm fully aware now [of the booing] having watched the game back with audio and I'm actually surprised I wasn't aware of it during the game," Gerrard told reporters on Friday.

"Sadly, these things keep raising their head far too often and, unfortunately, the punishments are not severe enough."

Sparta responded with a statement in which they defended their young fans, insisting their actions had been misinterpreted while stating the match will be remembered positively in the club's history.

"It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism," the statement said. "Insulting children on the internet and in the media is unacceptable, desperate and ridiculous.

"Stop attacking our children! Our club will proudly defend our children - our future and our pride. Slandering children on the internet is extremely cowardly.

"We are seeing unprecedented xenophobic statements against the Czech Republic, its citizens and even its children on social media.

"You are describing the behaviour of children incorrectly, arrogating to yourself the right to judge the expression of emotions of six-year-old children who have no idea what racism is. It's an impertinence.

"This match will go down in the club's history in a positive sense. We ask the representatives of Rangers to do their part to stop the xenophobic atmosphere directed towards our children, our beautiful country and its inhabitants."

Will Cristiano Ronaldo still be at Juventus next season?

Ronaldo's future appears to depend on Juve's Champions League participation.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain loom large for the Portuguese superstar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD OR PSG FOR RONALDO?

Cristiano Ronaldo is weighing up whether to return to Manchester United or join Paris Saint-Germain if Juventus fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, according to Tuttosport.

Ronaldo's future has dominated headlines amid speculation the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is set to leave Serie A giants Juve at the end of the current campaign.

Initially linked with Real Madrid, Ronaldo is reportedly eyeing either United or PSG in order to play in the Champions League.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is set to replace Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich. Despite interest from Tottenham and other clubs, Nagelsmann has agreed a five-year contract with the Bundesliga champions, who must negotiate a fee with Leipzig.

Raphael Varane wants to leave Madrid amid links with Chelsea, United and PSG, claims Diario AS. The France international defender is contracted to the Santiago Bernabeu until next season but Madrid are believed to be willing to cash in on Varane as they look to fund moves for PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Liverpool, United, Manchester City, Juve, Bayern and Barcelona.

- Manchester Evening News says United are interested in Slavia Prague's 21-year-old forward Abdallah Sima.

- The Sun reports England centre-back John Stones is in advanced talks with Premier League leaders City over a new five-year contract.

- Antonio Conte is dreaming of prising Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul to Inter, says Calciomercato. The Argentina international has also been linked with Napoli and Leeds United.

Mikel Arteta was delighted with Arsenal's clinical victory over Slavia Prague but has warned his side face a tough test against former boss Unai Emery's Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals.

The Gunners entered Thursday's quarter-final second leg with the tie delicately poised at 1-1, but they produced one of their best displays under Arteta to win 4-0 at Sinobo Stadium and advance 5-1 on aggregate.

Nicolas Pepe added to his first-leg strike by opening the scoring in the Czech capital, setting Arsenal on their way to a straightforward win as an Alexandre Lacazette penalty and long-range Bukayo Saka strike followed inside the first 24 minutes.

Lacazette rounded off the scoring in the second half to confirm a semi-final tie with Villarreal - 3-1 aggregate winners over Dinamo Zagreb - and a reunion with Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal in November 2019 and replaced by Arteta.

Emery has previously won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, while also losing the 2018-19 final against Chelsea during his time at Arsenal, and Arteta is aware of the size of the task now facing his side over two legs.

"It will be really tough and Unai Emery is probably the most successful manager in this competition," he told BT Sport. "There is still a lot to do and things we can improve on, but we have a real desire to improve and be better every day."

Arsenal are effectively relying on the Europa League to salvage their campaign and secure a place in Europe next season, the Gunners sitting ninth in the Premier League with seven games to play.

Arteta was particularly pleased with the way his side responded to having an Emile Smith Rowe goal chalked off at 0-0 on the day as his side held on for back-to-back clean sheets, and a first shutout in eight European games

"We started really well in a convincing way, aggressive in our high press," he said. "We looked a threat all the time. 

"I really like the reaction of the team to the goal being disallowed. We scored some great goals. The clean sheet is important as well, the second one in two games.

"It helped the way we played against Sheffield United. The players were in high confidence, when performances are so high the collective improves. The boys were really at it from the start.

"It is a really important win in a crucial moment. We won in a convincing way, so credit to the players."

Smith Rowe may have been denied a goal by VAR, but he set up Pepe for the opener - his seventh assist in all competitions this season, which is the joint-most of any Arsenal player alongside Willian.

With his strike later in the first half, meanwhile, Saka became Arsenal's joint-top teenage scorer in major European competition, matching the four goals scored by Charlie George and Ray Kennedy.

"For me it's a joy to watch them play to watch them every day in training," Arteta said at his post-match news conference when asked about the young pair's performance. "The passion and the commitment they have for the club is special.

"I'm really happy with all of the players. We came to a tough place to face a team that hasn't lost at home in almost two years.

"I think when we demanded efficiency from them and today is a good example of the efficiency you need in Europe to win matches."

Saka, who now has seven goals to his name in all competitions this season, added to BT Sport: "It shows everyone how exciting we can be. When we play like this it is so amazing to be involved in. 

"We have a chance of going to the final and winning this competition - now it is up to us. We look forward to the next opponent."

Arsenal turned on the style with three goals in six first-half minutes to beat Slavia Prague 4-0 and progress through to the Europa League semi-finals 5-1 on aggregate.

A number of spurned opportunities came back to haunt Arsenal in last week's reverse fixture as Tomas Holes scored late on to cancel out Nicolas Pepe's opener in a 1-1 draw.

But the Gunners were at their efficient best in front of a sparse crowd on Thursday, completely wiping out Slavia's away-goals advantage through strikes from Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka inside 24 minutes.

Slavia had gone 23 games without defeat in all competitions and last lost at home in November 2019, but there was no sign of a comeback as Lacazette added a late fourth for Arsenal to set up a last-four tie with Unai Emery's Villarreal.


Emile Smith Rowe thought he had given Arsenal the lead on the night early on when tapping in after Saka's curler was pushed onto the post by Ondrej Kolar and fell into his path.

The goal was ruled out for offside following a lengthy VAR check, but Smith Rowe played in Pepe a minute later and the winger coolly slotted past Kolar for the visitors' opener.

A second away goal followed from the penalty spot three minutes later, Lacazette sending the keeper the wrong way after Jakub Hromada brought down the lively Saka.

Arsenal showed no signs of slowing as Saka carried the ball inside from the right and drilled a left-footed finish into the bottom-right corner from 18 yards, with Kolar rooted to the spot.

That left Slavia requiring four goals to advance but the Czech champions, who knocked out Leicester City and Rangers en route to this stage, struggled to muster a response.

Lacazette had a penalty appeal rejected when going down in the box but the Frenchman had the last laugh when finding the near post to round off a counter 13 minutes from time, sending Arsenal through with minimal fuss.

Ondrej Kudela's 10-game UEFA ban for "racist behaviour" was designed to "fulfill the perverted expectations of a small group of activists," according to a senior politician in the Czech Republic. 

Slavia Prague's Kudela was sanctioned on Wednesday after initially receiving a one-match ban by UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body for "insulting players or others present at the match" after an altercation with Rangers' Glen Kamara. 

Kudela and Slavia strenuously denied the accusations levelled by Kamara in March, with the Czech Republic international alleged to have made a racist comment while covering his mouth towards the end of an ill-tempered round-of-16 second leg that Rangers lost 2-0, eliminating them from the competition.

Slavia accused Kamara of attacking Kudela inside the stadium after the game and UEFA also took action against the Rangers midfielder, suspending him for three games. 

Vratislav Mynar, head of the office of the president of the Czech Republic, has responded furiously to Kudela's suspension, describing it as "the pinnacle of hypocrisy". 

"I note that racism is unproven and alleged," he wrote in an open letter to UEFA on the president of the Czech Republic's official website. 

"The UEFA inspector himself questioned that Ondrej Kudela had made a racist statement. Nevertheless, you have decided on a completely unprecedented punishment for a player who did not harm anyone and only verbally – according to his statement – offended his opponent. 

"You condemn a decent person without a single piece of evidence. All this just to fulfill the perverted expectations of a small group of activists and a club unable to win on the field, all the more so by shouting empty and hurtful phrases about racism.

"In your submission, the fight against racism has become the fight of the unsuccessful against the successful, the pinnacle of hypocrisy and positive discrimination.

"Your efforts can lead to the opposite; a situation where a person with a colour other than black will be discriminated against, oppressed and deprived of their rights. That is why I also consider it necessary to oppose this procedure."

Mynar also said Czech president, Milos Zeman, was aware of the incident and considers it to be an important issue of "human dignity".

"I very much appreciate the fact that the Czech public does not identify with your verdict, across the whole society." he added. "On the contrary, even if only for a short time, you have managed to unite ancient rivals. We will not kneel before you and no threats apply to the Czech football fan.

"The president of the Republic, Milos Zeman, is acquainted with the situation in detail and considers it important not only from the point of view of sport, but also from the point of view of justice and human dignity. 

"It expresses belonging to all citizens of the Czech Republic who follow this case and are disappointed during it. At the same time, he wishes all players and fans not to be discouraged by the whole affair and to continue to support their team so valiantly."

Slavia Prague's Ondrej Kudela has been hit with a 10-game UEFA ban for "racist behaviour" directed at Rangers' Glen Kamara, who has to serve a three-match suspension for assault.

Kudela was given an initial one-match ban by UEFA as the governing body opened proceedings against him last week, forcing him to miss Slavia's 1-1 draw at Arsenal in their quarter-final tie.

At the time, UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body confirmed Kudela's suspension was relating to "insulting players or others present at the match".

Kudela and Slavia strenuously denied the initial accusations levelled by Kamara in March, with the Czech Republic international alleged to have made a racist comment while covering his mouth towards the end of an ill-tempered round-of-16 second leg that Rangers lost 2-0, eliminating them from the competition.

UEFA has sanctioned Kudela - who was described by Slavia as a "football gentleman" - following a full investigation.

A UEFA statement read: "Following an investigation conducted by a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector regarding the incidents that occurred during the 2020-21 Europa League round of 16 second leg match between Rangers and Slavia Prague on March 18, 2021, and the subsequent proceedings opened against Mr. Ondrej Kudela and Mr. Glen Kamara, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has taken the following decisions:

"To suspend Slavia Prague player, Mr. Ondrej Kudela, for the next 10 UEFA club and representative team competition matches for which he would otherwise be eligible to play, for racist behaviour, which includes the one-match provisional suspension served by the player during Slavia Prague's 2020-21 Europa League quarter-final first leg match against Arsenal on April 8, 2021."

Slavia accused Kamara of attacking Kudela inside the stadium after the game and UEFA has also taken action against the Rangers midfielder.

The statement continued: "To suspend Rangers player, Mr. Glen Kamara, for three UEFA club competition matches for which he would otherwise be eligible to play, for assaulting another player."

Kamara's Rangers team-mate Kemar Roofe has also been charged with assault by UEFA after a studs-up challenge on Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, who suffered a fractured skull.

Roofe has been handed a four-game ban.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe will be available for Arsenal for their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague.

Saka has been struggling with a thigh problem and was taken off in the second half of the Gunners' 3-0 Premier League win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Smith Rowe missed that match at Bramall Lane after spraining his ankle in the 1-1 first-leg draw with Slavia, but he and Saka have recovered fully for the return fixture at Sinobo Stadium.

Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who also missed the win over the Blades due to illness, will be assessed ahead of the Slavia clash.

Martin Odegaard is also battling to be fit after injuring his ankle during the international break, but the match will come too soon for Kieran Tierney and David Luiz.

Mikel Arteta's side are bidding to reach the Europa League semi-finals for the third time in four seasons, although they have failed to progress from their previous three European knockout ties after drawing the first leg.

Mikel Arteta stood by his decision to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Arsenal's Europa League tie with Slavia Prague and backed his side to progress, despite a disappointing 1-1 draw in Thursday's quarter-final first leg.

Club captain Aubameyang was named among the substitutes on the back of Saturday's 3-0 loss to Liverpool and was not introduced until the 78th minute against Slavia with the game still goalless. 

The Gabon international made an impact by playing in Nicolas Pepe for Arsenal's opener eight minutes later - his 100th goal involvement for Arsenal in all competitions since joining from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

Arsenal failed to see out the victory on home soil, however, with Tomas Holes heading in a 93rd-minute equaliser that leaves the Gunners requiring at least one goal in next week's return leg in the Czech capital.

But despite Alexandre Lacazette missing a glorious chance when played clean through on goal and Bukayo Saka also failing to convert from a good position, Arteta felt he picked the right starting line-up against Slavia.

"I think the players I selected stepped in and gave absolutely everything," he said at his post-match news conference. "We managed the game really well. We were much more aggressive today and we created some big chances.

"When I made the substitutions I felt it was the right time to do so. Whether I should have done it earlier or not, who knows?"

Arteta confirmed ahead of the game that Aubameyang was left out for tactical reasons and he was pleased with the response shown by the striker, who has 14 goals in 33 appearances this season.

"When he came on he showed the right attitude," the Spaniard said. "I cannot talk with everybody individually every week, but we try to be as transparent as possible."

Holes' late leveller was his first goal in major European competition in his 14th such appearance and leaves Arsenal with work to do in what is a make-or-break clash in Prague next week.

Arsenal are now winless in four matches and have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 14 games in all competitions, but Arteta has full confidence his side will reach the semi-finals for a third time in four seasons.

"I totally believe that we can go there and win the match," he told BT Sport. "We need to win the game. The mindset is to win the game. We need to score. We've done it before and we need to do it again."

Thursday's draw was the first time Arsenal have failed to beat a Czech side at home, but visiting boss Jindrich Trpisovsky accepted that Slavia had to ride their luck, even if they managed four attempts on target to their opponents' two.

"We weren't ourselves tonight. We gave them the ball very often without fight," Trpisovsky said. "We need to see how Arsenal will adapt to our pitch. Theirs is superb and ours is not so. Tonight, we were lucky. They had chances they didn't score.

"We made mistakes and kept losing the ball when we were in possession but then we were lucky with the corner and snatched the draw."

Tomas Holes scored in stoppage time to deny Nicolas Pepe the glory of a late winner as Slavia Prague snatched a 1-1 draw at Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Pepe looked to have won the game for Mikel Arteta's men when he finished clinically after being played through by fellow substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with four minutes of normal time remaining.

But Czech champions Slavia, who knocked out Leicester City and Rangers in the previous two rounds, showed their resilience once again in Thursday's clash at Emirates Stadium as Holes swooped in the third added minute to head a precious away goal.

Arsenal twice hit the post with the game scoreless, with Alexandre Lacazette failing to convert when clean through on goal, but they now head into next week's reverse fixture in Prague needing to score at least once to avoid elimination.

Ondrej Kudela was given an initial one-match ban by UEFA as the governing body opened proceedings against the Slavia Prague defender following allegations he racially abused Rangers' Glen Kamara.

After an investigation, UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body confirmed on Tuesday it had suspended Kudela for violating Article 15(1)(a)(iv) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, relating to "insulting players or others present at the match".

A statement said this decision was made "without prejudice to any ruling that the CEDB may subsequently make on the alleged violation of Article 14(1)".

Article 14(1) refers to a person who "insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons on whatever grounds, including skin colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation", the violation of which would incur "a suspension lasting at least ten matches or a specified period of time, or any other appropriate sanction".

A decision on the second potential violation will be made "in due course", the statement added.

UEFA's investigation relates to an incident in Slavia's Europa League win over Rangers in which Kamara reported receiving "vile" abuse from Kudela.

Television pictures showed Kudela, who covered his mouth with his hand, lean in to Kamara and make a comment which sparked fury from the Rangers midfielder and his team-mate Bongani Zungu.

Kamara demanded action from UEFA, saying: "It's time to stop the tokenism and take a zero-tolerance approach."

Slavia strenuously denied the allegations following the match in March and issued a statement defending Kudela.

The Czech club will face Arsenal in the Europa League quarter-finals this week but would have been without Kudela regardless of his ban.

The centre-back is still struggling following a blow to his nose sustained in a clash with Gareth Bale while on international duty last week.

Slavia Prague president Jaroslav Tvrdik is "terribly ashamed" by ultras who unveiled a racist banner targeting Rangers player Glen Kamara.

Kamara claimed he was racially abused by Ondrej Kudela during Rangers' Europa League defeat to Slavia on Thursday.

Kudela, who covered his mouth with his hand, leaned into Kamara and said something that sparked fury from the Rangers man and a nearby team-mate.

The Czech club have strenuously denied the allegations and issued a statement on Friday defending Kudela, who they allege was subjected to an attack by Kamara after the match.

Slavia also revealed they had filed a criminal complaint against Kamara for the alleged attack.

UEFA has launched an investigation into the respective incidents, including the claimed post-match altercation, which Slavia claim was "prepared and thought out, including deliberately covering the cameras at the scene of the incident".

Images of a group purporting to be Slavia ultras began circulating the day after the game, with the unidentifiable people holding a banner that named Kamara and contained a racial slur.

Tvrdik condemned these actions on his official Twitter page, writing: "I am terribly ashamed of the content of the photo published by some radical fans.

"It's absolutely disgusting, pathetic and racist. NO TO RACISM!"

In Slavia's initial statement defending Kudela, they insisted he was a "football gentleman".

Kamara released a statement of his own via a solicitor on Friday in which he called out Kudela's defence of just swearing at him as "a complete utter lie which does not stand up to any form of scrutiny".

Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara has demanded UEFA shows it is serious about banishing racism after he reported receiving "vile" abuse from Slavia Prague's Ondrej Kudela.

Kamara claimed he was targeted by Kudela during Rangers' Europa League defeat to Slavia on Thursday.

The Czech club have strenuously denied the allegations and issued a statement on Friday defending Kudela.

Kudela, who covered his mouth with his hand, leaned in to Kamara and said something which sparked fury from the Rangers man and his team-mate Bongani Zungu.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard spoke to his Slavia counterpart Jindrich Trpisovsky on the pitch at full-time and then later on the touchline, along with officials from each club and tournament organisers UEFA.

Gerrard later insisted he stood by Kamara, and UEFA has said it will investigate incidents from the game. Kamara issued his personal recollection of events through his solicitor on Friday evening.

"There is no place for racism or any form of bigotry in football," Kamara said in his statement, which he published on his Twitter account.

"Since summer many of us have taken the knee in solidarity with those who have lost their lives to racial violence. If UEFA genuinely want to 'show racism the red card', then it's time to stop the tokenism and take a zero-tolerance approach.

"As a player I do not expect myself, nor any other to have to tolerate racial hatred on or off the pitch in 2021. The vile racist abuse by Ondrej Kedel [sic], took place on the international stage, and any failure to act by UEFA will be viewed as a green light for racism.

"During yesterday's match with Slavia Prague, Kedel (sic) was arguing with a Rangers player and after I tried to intervene, he told me to shut up and then said 'one second, my friend'.

"He then came over to me covering his mouth, leaning into my ear, he uttered the words – 'You're a f****** monkey, you know you are'.

"I was shocked and horrified to hear such racist abuse from a professional football player. Kedel's claim he simply swore at me and said 'You're a f****** guy' is a complete utter lie which does not stand up to any form of scrutiny.

"Kedel's actions were deliberate and premeditated, but he was loud enough for my team-mate Bongani Zungu to hear what was said."

Kamara went on to thank Gerrard and the club, as well as Rangers' fanbase, while also highlighting that Kemar Roofe – who was sent off for a high lunge on Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar – had received racist abuse on Instagram.

On Friday it was confirmed Kolar had suffered a frontal sinus fracture.

Slavia said they have made a criminal complaint since the match, after alleging Kamara "physically abused" Kudela in the presence of officials from UEFA and both clubs.

They defended Kudela as "a football gentleman", and reiterated the centre-back refuted the racism allegations against him.

Slavia Prague have denied Rangers' claims that Glen Kamara received racial abuse from Ondrej Kudela during an ill-tempered Europa League clash on Thursday.

Scottish champions Rangers lost 2-0 at Ibrox – their first home defeat of the season – to seal a 3-1 aggregate defeat in the round-of-16 tie.

Yet Slavia's victory was marred by a late incident in which Kudela, who covered his mouth with his hand, seemingly said something that aggravated Kamara and his team-mate Joe Aribo, who was stood nearby.

The flashpoint escalated into a tussle between both teams, with a long stoppage following before play resumed.

Steven Gerrard spoke to his counterpart Jindrich Trpisovsky on the pitch at full-time and then later on the touchline, along with officials from each club and UEFA.

In his post-match news conference, Gerrard subsequently confirmed that Kamara alleged to have been racially abused by Kudela, asking UEFA to take swift action.

Slavia firmly denied the allegations and reported their player had been attacked following the game, saying police were called.

The Czech club have now reiterated that stance, insisting they stand against any form of prejudice, while backing Kudela's character.

Slavia also pointed out incidents within the match that saw both Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun sent off for Rangers.

Roofe saw red for a high boot into the face of goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, who had to be replaced and on Friday morning was confirmed to have suffered a frontal sinus fracture.

"The firm commitment to fight racism, xenophobia and all forms of hatred is one of the pillars of Slavia football policy," a club statement read.

"Any form of racial discrimination is contrary to our values and principles and we shall never tolerate such conduct.

"We are a club where all enjoy fair chance regardless of their race, colour, religion or beliefs. The modern Slavia is a fully multicultural team and even our hardcore fans wear jerseys of all players without exceptions.

"The second leg of the round of 16 of the Europa League between Slavia and Rangers was supposed to be a celebration of football as such. Our players faced excessively heavy-handed behaviour instead.

"Rangers injured Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar with a reckless tackle and other players were lucky not to be injured. Anyone who watched the game has surely formed their own opinion.

"Ondrej Kudela is one of the team captains elected in secret polls by the players who choose characters that enjoy their trust.

"He is a decent and modest person with a strong moral integrity, popular amongst the players and fans, a football gentleman. He categorically denies and refutes any allegations of racism.

"We are shocked that his reputation and the club's reputation are being smeared without a single piece of evidence. The only 'alleged' evidence is the player covering his mouth – which Ondrej does on a regular basis when he talks to his team-mates during our games."

Slavia went on to detail that Kudela had been "physically abused" by Kamara, and the club are considering filing a criminal complaint.

"Under the patronage and in the presence of the UEFA delegation, the coaches of both teams, Ondrej Kudela and Glen Kamara met," the statement continued.

"After the arrival of Slavia representatives, Ondrej was physically abused by the player of Rangers who then fled into the locker rooms followed by the manager Steven Gerrard without a single word of apology.

"The incident is thoroughly described in the match protocol and Slavia will consider filing a criminal complaint after their return to the Czech Republic.

"The movement of Slavia players and management was unprecedentedly restricted after the game. The players and staff were protected by the Czech Embassy in London and local police. We would like to express our gratitude for their professionalism."

Slavia concluded by demanding a full investigation from UEFA.

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