Ovidiu Hategan, the referee who took charge of Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir, has apologised for the incidents that saw the game abandoned.
The match was abandoned after 13 minutes of play and will restart early on Wednesday after a prolonged dispute between the teams and the officials.
As Basaksehir coach Pierre Webo was being dismissed, fourth official Sebastien Coltescu is alleged to have used racist language to single him out on the bench.
It sparked a furious exchange between Basaksehir and the match officials, and after a prolonged stoppage they walked off the field together with the PSG players.
Although the game was meant to restart, UEFA’s solution was to change the fourth official. However, he would then have to go into the VAR booth, which Istanbul rejected out of hand.
As such, the match will be played on Wednesday from the time that it stopped with a different set of officials.
Hategan, who was contacted by Europe 1, has apologised for the incident.
“We can't make any statement, we have to talk to UEFA first,” he said. “Normally I would have answered you gladly, but not tonight. Of course we're sorry, but respect our silence, and understand the situation.
On Twitter, an unverified account bearing the name of the fourth official but only created this month has issued a statement that reads: “Sorry for the misunderstanding. My intention was never racism. In such an environment, people sometimes cannot express their feelings correctly and can be misunderstood. I apologize on behalf of the UEFA Champions League. I hope you understand.”
Sorry for the misunderstanding. My intention was never racism. In such an environment, people sometimes cannot express their feelings correctly and can be misunderstood. I apologize on behalf of the UEFA Champions League. I hope you understand. @UEFA #notoracism #uefa pic.twitter.com/90aiDSi2aU— Sebastian Coltescu (@sebaColtescu) December 8, 2020
It is, of course, unclear if this actually emanates from the official in question.
There was a significant backlash on social media, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Presnel Kimpembe both tweeting their support of Basaksehir’s reaction.