After alleged racist abuse led to a Champions League game being stopped, UEFA opened disciplinary cases against two Romanian match officials on lesser charges on Thursday.
Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir refused to continue playing on Dec. 8 because they believed fourth official Sebastian Coltescu had racially insulted the Turkish club’s assistant coach, Pierre Webo, who is Black. Television footage showed Coltescu in a conversation with the other Romanian match officials saying “negru,” the Romanian word for black, to identify Webo.
The game was completed 24 hours later with a different set of match officials brought in from the Netherlands. Romanian media reported on Thursday that UEFA concluded Coltescu did not use the word in a racist or discriminatory way. UEFA later said proceedings were opened against Coltescu and second official Octavian Sovre for “a potential violation of Article 11 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”
That relates to “general principles of conduct,” including action that is “insulting or otherwise violates the basic rules of decent conduct.” Racism is dealt with under a different section of the rules and UEFA gave no date for a hearing.
The match between the two sides was suspended until the following day after players from both sides walked off the pitch following the incident. The match resumed at 12.55 p.m. ET (6:55 p.m. Paris time) with a new set of officials the next day, and PSG won 5-1.
After the match was halted, PSG tweeted: “Any form of racism goes against the values conveyed by Paris Saint-Germain, its president, its staff and its players.”
French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu supported the players’ decision to walk off the pitch.
“Tonight, athletes took a historic decision in the face of an attitude they deemed unacceptable,” she wrote on Twitter at the time. “An expression of ordinary racism.”
Following the incident, Webo told BBC Sport: “We are now going to have the day before Dec. 8 and the day after. It will be remembered.
“It was a tough day, very tough. It’s very stressful, I saw the doctor to give me some pills to sleep.
“I don’t want people to focus on me… it will be a shame if I’m remembered for this. I’m ashamed of it, to be truthful. These two or three days have been the most difficult of my career.”