Slavia Prague’s comprehensive dismissal of nine-man Rangers at Ibrox was firmly overshadowed by a racism allegation made by Steven Gerrard and the Scottish champions against the visiting defender Ondrej Kudela.
Glen Kamara was visibly distressed after Kudela approached him, covered his mouth and spoke in the Rangers midfielder’s ear during an 87th-minute break in play. Long after full-time, officials from both clubs – including Gerrard and his opposite number, Jindrich Trpisovsky – were involved in heated discussion by the side of the Ibrox pitch. A clearly shaken Gerrard later emerged to explain his side of the situation.
Confirming the alleged comment was racist in nature, Gerrard said: “Glen Kamara to me is one of my own. I 100% 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 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 difficult to describe how I feel now because I know Glen and I trust him 100%. It’s extremely disappointing.”
Trpisovsky did not appear for post‑match media duties. “All I can confirm is that my player tells me he was racially abused,” said the Rangers manager. “I tried to call Glen over during the game, he didn’t come over. I was going to ask him did he want to leave the pitch and I would have backed him whatever his decision was but the players stayed on the pitch, that was their decision and the game came to a conclusion.
“This will be taken out of my hands now and dealt with by Uefa. I just hope with all my heart that people deal with it because that situation was not normal. If I wanted to say something to you on a football pitch why do I need to cover my mouth and go to the ear? The game’s done in terms of the result at the time – we have nine men, they are 2-0 up, there is absolutely no need for it. The disappointing thing for me is there is people trying to defend the opposition player.”
When pressed on who that was, Gerrard said: “Their people, trying to defend it, trying to defend him, calling us liars. That’s for other people to deal with – all I say now is that I stand by Glen Kamara 100%.”
Slavia’s president, Jaroslav Tvrdik, later released a statement defending Kudela. It read: “Slavia categorically opposes the fact that Ondrej Kudela racistly insulted the players’ opponents in any way. It tells us that our player was physically attacked after the match. At the request of Slavia, the case was resolved by the local police. We would like to see a detailed investigation of the whole situation by Uefa.”
Rangers had suffered a Europa League defeat over 90 minutes at the 13th time of asking. Slavia, who knocked out Leicester at the last‑32 stage, took a deserved early lead as Peter Olayinka headed home Nicolae Stanciu’s cross from the left flank.
Hopes of a Rangers second‑half response were blunted by the dismissal of their substitute, Kemar Roofe. The forward was wild and reckless when chasing a long ball from Connor Goldson, with Roofe’s boot planted high into the face of Ondrej Kolar.
The Slavia goalkeeper was unable to continue, with his place taken by the 18-year-old debutant Matyas Vagner.
Rangers’ next red card of the evening triggered the second Slavia goal. After Leon Balogun received a second yellow for a foul on Lukas Masopust, the impressive Stanciu stepped forward to curl the resultant free-kick beyond Allan McGregor. The lingering theme, though, was to prove far more serious than Slavia’s slick away win.
“I think devastated was an understatement,” Gerrard said of Kamara, his 25-year-old midfielder. “This is a cool, calm kid. It’s not him to accuse someone of anything.
“We can’t just let incidents like this be forgotten and wait for the next one to happen. There is too much hard work and too many people trying to do everything they can to eradicate it from the game. The only people who can eradicate it from the game are the ones way above me in high places who have the power to change situations like this. It just doesn’t make sense for someone to accuse someone of something like that if it wasn’t true.”