The fourth official accused of racist behaviour that caused a Champions League match to be abandoned faces a minimum 10-match ban if found guilty of breaching Uefa rules.
The European governing body confirmed on Wednesday that an ethics and disciplinary inspector had been appointed to conduct a “thorough” investigation into an incident involving Constantin Coltescu that led players from Istanbul Basaksehir and Paris St-Germain to leave the pitch and not return on Tuesday night.
Under Article 14 of Uefa’s disciplinary regulations, which apply to match officials as well as to players, any individual who “insults the human dignity of a person … on whatever grounds, including skin colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation”, will be subject to a ban of at least 10 matches.
The incident is said to have occurred after Coltescu recommended the sending-off of Istanbul’s assistant manager Pierre Webo to the referee Ovidiu Hategan, a fellow Romanian, in the 14th minute. Coltescu is alleged to have pointed out Webo to Hategan by saying: “The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that.”
The striker Demba Ba confronted Coltescu and asking why he described Webo with reference to his skin colour. “You never say ‘this white guy’, you say ‘this guy’,” Ba was heard to say. “So why when you mention a black guy do you have to say ‘this black guy?’”
Both sets of players left the pitch shortly afterwards and did not return, thought to be the first example of such a protest in Europe. It comes a year after Uefa devised its three-step protocols for enabling players to respond to racist abuse, with the third step being a walk out. Ironically this protocol was to be led by referees.
The match is scheduled to be completed on Wednesday evening at the Parc des Princes, with a new set of officials. Webo’s red card has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
José Mourinho believes Tuesday’s halted match will be seen as “iconic”. Tottenham’s manager said: “That game will become quite iconic; a Champions League game to stop after 15 minutes for a very sad reason, hopefully it will never happen again. As a football guy I am very sorry that my industry that situation happened.”