Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir played their Champions League match to a conclusion on Wednesday, 24 hours after it had been suspended, with Neymar scoring a hat-trick before saying both teams had felt compelled to make a stand against racism in what was an unprecedented protest over an alleged comment by an official.
PSG won the game 5-1 after it restarted where it had stopped the previous day, in the 14th minute, following a touchline argument over accusations the Romanian fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu, had described Basaksehir’s Cameroonian assistant coach Pierre Webo as “black”, or “negru” in Romanian.
“Sometimes in extreme circumstances these things need to be done to see if the world can change a little,” said Neymar, who together with other players and the new team of officials gathered around the centre circle and took a knee before the restart on Wednesday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Players also sported t-shirts with the slogan “No To Racism” while warming up at the Parc des Princes, where large banners in the empty stands carried the same message.
“What happened was unacceptable. In the times we live in we cannot accept differences being made like that about colour or race,” Neymar told French broadcaster RMC Sport.
“It has no place in football, or in life, or in any sport, so our attitude was perfect.”
Coltescu and the other Romanian match officials were replaced for the restart by a new refereeing team headed by the Netherlands’ Danny Makkelie.
Basaksehir had already been eliminated from the Champions League even before this game but they left their mark on the competition with their response to the treatment of Webo, who was sent off as he reacted furiously to the alleged comment.
That red card was suspended by UEFA pending a probe, with European football’s governing body promising a “thorough investigation”.