Czech footballer appeals UEFA ban, insists he never said anything racist
The international scandal around Ondřej Kúdela, a centre-back for the Slavia Prague football team, is not over yet - the player has decided to appeal the 10-match ban that has been handed down against him by the UEFA disciplinary commission for insulting a competitor with racism during the European League's last-16. Kúdela will ask for an oral hearing before the UEFA appeals commission.
The law office of Urban & Hejduk in the Czech Republic, which is representing Kúdela, informed the Czech News Agency (ČTK) of the appeal on 23 April. Kúdela was punished for an incident that occurred in the 87th minute of the match in Glasgow, Scotland on 18 March.
Glen Kamara, a midfielder for the Rangers, accused Kúdela of calling him a "monkey". The 34-year-old Czech player admitted to having cursed out his opponent but denies having used a racist insult.
UEFA's disciplinary commission reached the verdict that Kúdela did commit racism, but according to Slavia and to the player's attorneys, the investigation of the events in Glasgow turned up no evidence beyond the accuser's testimony and that of an eyewitness. "On Thursday, Ondřej Kúdela received an explanation of the decision by UEFA's Auditing, Ethics and Disciplinary Commission dated 14 April about his incident with the player Kamara," the statement from the player's attorneys says.
"After agreeing with our client we have filed an appeal against that decision," reads the statement. "According to UEFA's disciplinary rules we have several days to file additional information along with the appeal, which we will do next week."
"At the same time, we will ask for an oral hearing of the appeal before UEFA's appeals commission," said attorney René Cienciala, who is handling the case. According to information received by ČTK, the written justification for Kúdela's punishment did not mention any evidence for the allegation that Kúdela used racist insults, which means the matter remains at the level of accusation.
UEFA took into consideration the testimony of Kamara's teammate Bongani Zungu, who claims to have heard the insult. The Czech side is disputing that claim by arguing that other players standing the same distance away from Kamara and Kúdela as Zungu stood did not hear what was said.
Kúdela cupped a hand to his mouth while speaking, which is another reason it is unlikely he would have been heard. After the incident, he explained that the movement to cover his mouth was automatic and that he customarily communicates that way.
According to the chairman of the board of Slavia, Jaroslav Tvrdík, who commented in a podcast for the Lidovky.cz news server, Kamara's testimony as to what Kúdela allegedly said to him changed the wording of the alleged sentence four times. Zungu is said by Slavia to have used different words twice when describing what he claims to have heard.
Tvrdík also claimed that Kúdela's knowledge of English is so low that he could never have said what Kamara testified that he said. Kamara, who is Black and plays as an international for Finland, alleges that the Czech player whispered to him: "You're a fucking monkey and you know it."
The Slavia player has been banned from 10 matches and will miss the European championship this summer, while Kamara has been banned from three matches for having physically assaulted Kúdela in the bowels of the stadium roughly one hour after the match. Rangers' attacker Kemar Roofe was also banned from four matches for commiting a brutal foul against Slavia goalkeeper Ondřej Kolář, causing him a facial fracture.
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