The Basaksehir Incident Is Key To The Future Of Football – Webo


Oma Akatugba

On the 8th of December, the message of anti-racism in football reached new heights as players decided not to continue a UEFA Champions League game between Istanbul Basaksehir and PSG after a suspected racist remark from a referee.

Former Cameroon international and an assistant coach at Istanbul, Pierre Webo accused Romanian fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu of directing a racist remark at him.

In an incident that gained widespread and global attention, Webo said Coltescu regarded him as ”negro”.

While the 4th official anything of such, he said he called him ”negru” which means ”black” in Romanian.

His explanation, however, fell on the deaf ears of players of both teams with the match only continuing on the second day.

Webo, in an interview with Turkish television station, TRT TV, said the incident is significant to the message of anti-racism in football.

He said he was overwhelmed to see the level of support he got even from the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

”Something similar happened to me in Spain, we all thought it was okay at that time. When I touch the ball or mark a goal, they would make monkey sounds, it made me so uncomfortable and upset especially when you know your family is sitting in the stands and you have this type of situation. My son would ask me about it and many times I don’t know what to say, this is the difference between December 8 and all those moments. For once both teams said enough is enough and this is the most important thing to remember.”

On identifying how angry he was after Coltescu’s remark, Webo said;

”No, I would say no. I know myself and this is the first time I saw myself in this state and it was very hard, those moments were strong, I didn’t recognise myself, all my family, friends, colleagues said this is not Achille Webo, it was instinctive. The rage came from inside, it was not predicted.”

The former Real Mallorca striker said neither the official nor the referee sent a word of apology to him, and admitted, a simple apology might have changed the situation.

”Maybe, maybe. Everyone saw my reaction but this person did not apologize to me at any point. I didn’t get any call from him or his staff, the other referees. The message is that as football players we must not make these mistakes and I think the reaction from the players on the pitch was remarkable. For the first time, they showed everyone that we are united, that we are supportive. This is our reaction and if a similar incident happens in the future we have shown everyone that we can take action.”

Webo gets a PSG Shirt

He said there was massive support from the Turkish public, PSG players and his teammates and that filled his heart.

”After the match, we had a video call with the club president in the changing room, he said I stand with you, do what comes from your heart. He said we’re family, you know in football we say we are family but for once in my long career, I felt they were my family when everyone stood with me. For a case like mine, everyone took the same decision. When we entered the changing room, they all came to me and said to me, we support you. Also the PSG players they came up to me and told me they share the same feelings so I really felt understood and supported by every player and by both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and our club president.

”After talking to my son, he said everyone was asking him what was happening. Previously, I also had moments like that in Spain but everything went on, as usual, everyone continued to play but it’s when everyone, PSG, our team, Neymar, Marquinhos, Leonardo, the PSG president, our staff, we all stood together, we had the same conviction and said we wouldn’t continue because this is very hard, at that moment I knew it was a strong starting point.”

Webo stayed mum about the allegations of the referee that some derogatory terms were directed towards him. He said many things could have been said at the heat of the moment.

”When there’s an action, there’s also a reaction. A lot of things were said, I still hear many things but I think the most important thing is to learn from this experience, it’s not about being against the staff or the referees. We were united and we had a strong message. This was the message: If an incident like this ever occurs again in the future just look back at the night of the Basaksehir match on December 8 and see that action was taken and it can be taken again. I say December 8 should be remembered as an important day for the future of football.”

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