John Barnes has defended the Romanian fourth official at the centre of the racism controversy in Tuesday’s aborted Champions League clash between Paris St Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir.
UEFA has launched an investigation into the Group H encounter which was abandoned after 13 minutes when both sets of players walked off the pitch in the wake of a red card being shown to Basaksehir’s assistant manager Pierre Webo.
Subsequent video footage showed the Cameroonian accusing the fourth official, Romanian Sebastian Coltescu, of using racist language, with Basaksehir striker Demba Ba also remonstrating with the official.
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UEFA confirmed the match will resume at 1755GMT on Wednesday, with a new team of officials, led by Holland’s Danny Makkelie. The fourth official replacing Coltescu will be Bartosch Frankowsky of Poland.
In footage of the incident, former Chelsea striker Ba is seen asking the official: “Why, when you mention a black guy, do you have to say this black guy?”
Reacting on Twitter to the incident, Barnes claims that the official made an honest mistake as he tried to give information to the referee.
Responding to a follower saying there are “are many ways to identify someone without referring to race,” Barnes wrote: “If they are the ONLY white person in a room or group… THEY ARE… how else would YOU describe the ONLY white person or BLACK person in a group?”
Barnes then claimed the official would’ve acted the same if the coach had been white in a similar situation.
The former Liverpool man said: “[Demba] Ba said if he was white u wouldnt say white guy… but if there were 5 black coaches and 1 white coach .. he would have said ‘the white one’… what else could or should he say?”
When put to Barnes that an official should have asked for the name of the player, Barnes continued to defend the officials.
Barnes said: ‘The ref doesnt know who to ask, the 4th official has to tell the ref which one to approach so he tells him to approach ‘the black one’ .. then the ref may ask his name and send him off.. the 4th officials job is JUST to identify him.. not ask his name.”
Barnes added: “And even if he said negro… if thats the romanian word for black… whats wrong with that?”