Micah Richards refused to accuse fourth Romanian official Sebastian Coltescu of racism after PSG and Istanbul players Basaksehir left the pitch and forced their Champions League game to be suspended.
Coltescu called Basaksehir’s assistant Pierre Webo “the black one” twice when he directed the referee on the pitch towards the staff member who had vehemently protested a decision.
Coltescu used the word “negru”, which means black in Romanian, and Webo reacted angrily by shouting, “Why did you say nigger?
An argument broke out on the sideline with all the players and staff involved. Basaksehir then descended the tunnel and was followed by PSG, forcing the game to be suspended. It will resume on Wednesday night from the 14th minute, when the incident occurred, with a new set of officials.
Players on both sides were applauded for refusing to continue the game following what they saw as a racist remark. But speaking on CBS ‘CBS coverage of the Champions League shortly after the incident, alongside presenter Kate Abdo and pundits Roberto Martinez and Jamie Carragher, former Manchester City defender Richards has stated that we should not rush to judge.
“Demba Ba was within his rights to say what he said,” Richards explained, referring to the Basaksehir attacker’s accusations of racism towards the official. “I think that’s the whole problem in society, they were [the official was] trying to label people as different.
“But playing devil’s advocate is difficult, because if we’re in a room like we are now, and someone says ‘the black person’ or ‘the black person’, I don’t wouldn’t offend, so without knowing the context the word was used it’s easy to jump on either bandwagon.
“I think the players, so that they don’t go out and hang out together, it could have been something more than that. But from the evidence we saw there, it’s very difficult for me to register the fourth official because I don’t know the context in which it was used.
“In Romania… the word ‘negru’ means black. It is difficult. The problem with racism, when a racial moment happens, we don’t really deal with it, and then we have something that might or might not have been, they’re two different things. So we can’t assume that just because he said he was racist.
“Was he ignorant? Probably. Racist? I’m not sure, and it’s just from the evidence given to me.
UEFA is investigating the incident.