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Champions League racism: Why did Basaksehir players walk off the pitch vs PSG?

Both sides went back to the dressing rooms in protest at an alleged racial slur uttered by a member of the refereeing team

Paris Saint Germain’s final Champions League group game was suspended on Tuesday when both they and Istanbul Basaksehir walked off the pitch in protest at alleged racial abuse directed at a member of the Turkish side’s coaching staff. 

The match was thrown into turmoil after the first-half incident, with Basaksehir walking off the pitch first and then followed in solidarity by PSG.

What did the referee say?

Assistant coach Pierre Webo claimed that the fourth official addressed him with a racist slur during the first half of the Group H game, played in tandem with Manchester United‘s clash against RB Leipzig

Webo was additionally sent from the field after his exchange with the referee in the 13th minute, to the disbelief of the Basaksehir squad. 

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What did Demba Ba say?

Demba Ba, the veteran ex-Chelsea and Newcastle United striker, was among the visiting players who remonstrated with officials over their treatment of the Cameroonian. 

“You never say, ‘This white guy’, you say, ‘This guy’,” the 35-year-old was heard on camera as saying following Webo’s expulsion.

“So why when you mention… listen to me… so why when you mention a black guy [do] you have to say, ‘This black guy’?”

Why did the players walk off?

The match was halted as Basaksehir continued to protest the decision, and 10 minutes later the Turkish side opted to leave the field in order to register their disgust at the officials’ behaviour. 

PSG in turn decided to support their opponents’ stance and returned to the dressing rooms too, leaving the Parc des Princes deserted. 

Pascal Kimpembe was also overheard exclaiming, “What? What? Is he serious?” in reference to the official’s actions.

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“We are heading in. That is it, we are heading in.”

Kimpembe would later post a picture on Twitter saying: “No to racism.”

When did the match restart?

UEFA initially attempted to restart the match at 10pm CET (9pm GMT), with PSG’s players warming up in the entrance to the pitch tunnel in anticipation. 

The VAR official had been slated to take over fourth-official duties, with the fourth official moved into the video room. 

Basaksehir, however, were unhappy with that decision and insisted he be removed from officiating responsibilities altogether before the match could continue. 

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Speaking on RMC, ex-Manchester United striker Louis Saha slammed UEFA’s apparent “ultimatum” to the away side. 

“What upsets me that the players are the [only] ones to take a stand. UEFA didn’t,” he fired. 

“Now UEFA are making ultimatums about restarting the match … it’s like they’re in denial … there’s no sign they are ever going to take this problem seriously.”

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