A pair of Romanian match officials will reportedly not face racism charges from UEFA but are still being investigated over the incident which caused PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir players to storm off in a Champions League match.
The group stage clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Basaksehir on December 8 was abandoned after fourth official Sebastian Coltescu was accused of racially abusing Istanbul assistant coach Pierre Webo, who is black.
Coltescu was heard using the Romanian word “negru” – meaning “black” – when identifying Webo for disciplinary action on the sidelines.
A furious Webo and Basaksehir players including substitute Demba Ba confronted the official, claiming his language was racially charged and that he could have chosen other words to point out the assistant coach.
The incident led to both teams storming off the pitch and the game being abandoned after just 13 minutes. It was completed the following day with a new set of officials, with PSG winning 5-1.
UEFA confirmed on Thursday that following an investigation by the organization’s Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector, proceedings would be opened against Coltescu and second official Octavian Sovre for “a potential violation of Article 11 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”
That would imply a probe into “general principles of conduct,” rather than racism.
Romanian media report that they have details of the case, and that UEFA have determined that according to a linguistic report the phrase used by Coltescu in his native tongue “has no derogatory or negative connotations” even if the word sounds similar to the offensive term “negro” in English.
UEFA added that further information would be available once a final decision has been taken.
Coltescu returned to action in Romania last month, taking charge of a First Division clash between Sepsi and Astra Giurgiu.
“I’m happy that Coltescu has returned,” Astra Giurgiu coach Eugen Neagoe said afterwards, Marca reported.
“I know he works hard to be at the required level. I don’t think that what happened with him was normal.”
The scenes in Paris caused a wave of calls for racism to be kicked out of football, with even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weighing in.