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John Barnes Sparks Social Media Row After Defending Fourth Official At Centre Of Racism Storm During Champions League Tie

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John Barnes Sparks Social Media Row After Defending Fourth Official At Centre Of Racism Storm During Champions League Tie

John Barnes has provoked a major social media row after defending the fourth official at the centre of the racism storm during Paris Saint-Germain's game against Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday.

Sebastian Coltescu's alleged abuse of Basaksehir coach Pierre Webo led to both teams walking off the pitch during the fixture at Parc des Princes.

The game was abandoned and eventually completed the following night with a new refereeing team.

The apparent racial slur against Webo occurred when he was shown a red card for protesting a decision, with the Romanian term "negru", or "the black one", used to identify him to the referee.

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However, Barnes, himself a victim of vile racist abuse during his playing days, responded to the outcry by taking to Twitter to write: "It's NOT racist to describe the offender as the black one!

"We're telling people to call us black. He doesn't know his name, there are six/seven coaches standing together, all Turkish. One is to be sent off; the ref says, which one, THE BLACK ONE? What else can he say to let the ref know? Why can't you describe a black man as being a black man?"


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One fan told Barnes the fourth official should have asked for a name rather than using skin colour as a descriptor, but the Liverpool legend disagreed.

Barnes said: "The ref doesn't know who to ask. The fourth official has to tell the ref which one to approach so he tells him to approach "the black one". The fourth official's job is JUST to identify him, not ask his name."

Coltescu - who had his Instagram hacked and profile image changed to a picture of Webo with #notoracism added to his bio - has since apologised.

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He said: "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 apologise on behalf of the UEFA Champions League. I hope you understand."


Image: PA
Image: PA
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The match was played to a conclusion on Wednesday with players from both sides taking a knee and sporting "No to Racism" T-shirts. PSG won 5-1 after a Neymar hat-trick and Kylian Mbappe brace.

"We're tired, we don't want to go through this again," said Mbappe. "Of course, I'm proud of what was done. We were not disappointed not to play. We made that decision. We were proud.

"A lot of things were said but, in fact, there's nothing better than actions."

Topics: John Barnes, Paris Saint-Germain, Champions League

Thomas Harvey
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