Ondrej Kudela will certainly be reeling after receiving a 10-match ban from UEFA from all club and national team matches under its jurisdiction.
The Slavia Prague defender will not only be suspended for the rest of his club’s Europa League campaign, however long it lasts, but will also miss out on his country’s Euro 2020 finals appearance this summer.
On the face of it, that’s a heavy price to pay for any professional footballer. Kudela, who at 34 may never have another chance to represent Czech Republic at a major tournament, will certainly have plenty of time to reflect on the consequences of his abhorrent conduct at Ibrox in March.
Given the difficulty in meeting the burden of proof in incidents such as Kudela’s comment in the ear of Glen Kamara during the Europa League match last month, it is a triumph for the case made by the Rangers midfielder, his team-mates and legal representatives that Kudela has been found guilty at all.
Yet the feeling will remain that missing 10 games of football is hardly a punishment which fits the crime of calling another human being a ‘f***ing monkey’. Especially as European football’s governing body do have the capacity to impose a longer ban.
UEFA introduced the current minimum sanction back in 2013 in response to growing incidents of racism in football, mostly relating to abuse from spectators.
The relevant article of their disciplinary regulations states that “any person who insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons on whatever grounds, including skin colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation, incurs a suspension lasting at least ten matches or a specified period of time, or any other appropriate sanction”.
It is a punishment which has rarely been imposed. Prior to Kudela’s case, Ukrainian goalkeeper Kostyantyn Makhnovskyi, in 2019, was the only previous player to be banned for 10 matches for racist conduct during a UEFA club match.
Given that Rangers pair Kamara and Kemar Roofe have received three and four match bans respectively for physical ‘assault’ in the match against Slavia, 10 games for racism still feels woefully inadequate.