President of football club SK Slavia Praha, Jaroslav Tvrdík, demands the immediate halt of escalating biased pressure by Rangers’ club representatives (most recently a public statement of the club’s chief, Mr Stewart Robertson, made on 30 March 2021) and other public figures in Scotland on UEFA and Police officials regarding the investigated incidents reported during 2020/21 UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between Rangers FC and SK Slavia Praha on 18 March 2021.
Mr Tvrdík states: “The pending investigations conducted by the officials of UEFA and the local Police have made no findings so far. However, our player Ondřej Kúdela has already been the subject of a public ‘conviction’ without any evidence whatsoever; he is a victim of prejudice and a presumption of guilt. The UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector is still conducting an investigation regarding the incidents in question and has been granted additional time until 5 April 2021 to deliver his report. We believe in an evidence- and law-based process whereby Ondřej and our club both provide necessary cooperation to the respective authorities. We have presented evidence which, in our view, cleanses Ondřej of an unjustified accusation of racism.”
Mr Tvrdík adds that unfortunately xenophobic prejudice is evidently rising on the part of some stakeholders and some British media against clubs and players and, in general, against people from Central and Eastern Europe: “The sad side of the whole matter is that Rangers are trying to cover up overtly aggressive play by their team. During the match itself, our goalkeeper Ondřej Kolář was gravely injured and sustained a frontal sinus fracture while our doctor was prevented to examine him on site even dozens of minutes after the final whistle. Not to mention that there were several other serious fouls against our players and a number of those have remained unpunished. Such behaviour does not belong in the prestigious UEFA Europa League.”
Mr Tvrdík also stresses that Mr Kamara´s assault of Ondřej Kúdela after the match is likewise included in the subject-matter of the pending investigations despite Rangers being practically silent about this incident. In this regard, he mentions: “If someone is wondering what happened, the Rangers delegation claimed a wish to speak to Ondřej in order to clarify the alleged racial insult. The conversation was about to take place in the tunnel under the patronage and in the presence of the UEFA match delegation and the coaches of both teams. However, the cameras covering the meeting place were purposely covered and then Mr Kamara, with no warning and obviously having zero intention to have the suggested conversation, roughly assaulted Ondřej by punching him to the face. After trying to continue fighting he fled into the dressing room followed by Mr Gerrard without a single word of apology. It is a disgraceful incident.”
Last but not least, Mr Tvrdík reminds the club’s firm commitment to fight racism, xenophobia and all forms of hatred as one of the pillars of Slavia football policy. He emphasizes: “Any form of racial discrimination is contrary to our values and principles and we shall never tolerate such conduct. We believe that all people must be free and equal with their rights and dignity. Slavia strictly abides by the policy against racism as detailed by the organization FARE” (Football Against Racism in Europe).
In light of the foregoing, the club and the player Kúdela await the results of a proper and independent investigation of both incidents. We call for calm until then.