Steven Gerrard has warned UEFA they cannot afford to sweep the alleged racial abuse of Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara under the carpet.
The Gers were beaten 2-0 by Slavia Prague at Ibrox in a fiery Europa League game that saw two of Gerrard’s players sent off, but the match was overshadowed by the ugly scenes towards the end when Ondrej Kudela appeared to whisper something to Kamara, provoking a furious reaction.
The battle is said to have continued in the tunnel after the final whistle, with Slavia chiefs claiming Kudela was ‘hit with fists’ by Kamara.
“Glen Kamara to me is one of my own, like the majority, all in that dressing room,” Gerrard said afterwards. “I 100 per cent believe what he is saying in terms of the accusation.
“Other players around him heard it so I will stand toe to toe with Glen Kamara and I’ll deal with this however Glen wants to deal with it.
“I am proud of all my players, tonight showing solidarity and from the top of this club to the bottom we stand with the players. This situation is over to UEFA now. I just hope it doesn’t get brushed under the carpet.
“I feel angry. It’s extremely disappointing. There is too much of it happening around football. The Slavia player has caused this and he has also caused a situation like this to escalate even further because straight away you get the fans joining in and the racism grows and grows.
“Something needs to happen quickly. That is above me. But 100 per cent I stand beside Glen Kamara, whatever happens going forward.
“UEFA will take this upon them I’m sure they will speak to both players and we will let other people deal with it. All I can confirm is that my player tells me he was racially abused.”
As Gerrard called for action to be taken, Slavia officials hit back at Rangers’ claims, accusing the Ibrox club of ‘unprecedented malicious play’ and said Police Scotland had been asked to get involved.
During the game, Kemar Roofe was sent off for a studs-up challenge on visiting keeper Ondrej Kolar’s face – leaving the player with a huge head wound – while Leon Balogun received his marching orders for two yellow cards.
In a statement, Prague bosses said: “The club denies the allegations of racism of one of the team captains Ondrej Kudela.
The statement said that Kudela spoke to one of the Rangers players and was quoted as saying: “I told him ‘You f***ing guy’. It was said in emotions, but I absolutely deny there was anything racist in those words.”
It continued: “Slavia players faced an unprecedented malicious play from their opponents. They have never experienced such play in any game they participated in the modern history of the European competitions.
“Many brutal tackles resulted in injuries of our players. Goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar travelled to a hospital with ten stitches on his head.
“After the end of the game, the team was not allowed to enter the dressing room.
“Ondrej Kudela was assaulted by player Kamara and hit with fists in the head with manager Steven Gerrard witnessing the incident.
“Even the UEFA representatives who were also present on the site of the incident were shocked by this behaviour.
“The team is now safe accompanied by the Scottish police.”
On the game itself, Gerrard had no excuses for the defeat.
“Congratulations to Slavia, they deserved it over the two games.
“In no way, shape or form do we sit here and be bad losers, coming out with excuses.”
Peter Olayinka headed Slavia ahead early on but Gers felt they could still turn it around in the second half.
However, Roofe’s dismissal was a fatal set-back which was quickly compounded by Balogun, whose second booking handed Nicolae Stanciu a set-piece chance he expertly sweep home the second.