Sparta hit form on pitch but face problems in stands
Czech football club Sparta has continued a solid run in the Europa League, downing Israeli side Hapoel Beer Sheva to take nine points in their group. Four stadium sections in Prague, however, were closed off on orders by UEFA’s Disciplinary Commission. The move was in reaction to inappropriate chants by Sparta fans in a previous match against Inter Milan.
A problem, though, is what was seen as highly inappropriate chants from Sparta fans during a recent match against Inter Milan, humming deemed an expression of racism by UEFA’s Disciplinary Commission. As a result four sections, including the so-called ‘kotel’ (furnace), home to hard-core fans were closed off. Large banners, saying “No to Racism – Respect” covered areas of the empty stands, instead. Racism has been an issue in the past in the top Czech division for clubs like Sparta, crosstown rivals Slavia, or Viktoria Plzeň, who have all been penalized before.
On Thursday, Sparta Prague, which had argued that the recent humming was not racist in nature, was determined that no such display to be repeated. Above all, the team hopes to send the message that now or in the future racism will not be tolerated. The head of the club’s PR team, Ondřej Kasík.
Ahead of Thursday’s Europa Leaue match, the club prepared a special video reminding viewers racism has no place in football: appearing in the video were players Bořek Dočkal and Costa Nhamoinesu, stressing that all players spoke one language – that of the beautiful game. Nhamoinesu is from Zimbabwe. From the clip:
“The match against Beer Sheva is not going to be sold out. Is this something we really want? We are Sparta. We say ‘No to racism’.”