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John Barnes causes controversy for what he said about fourth official accused of racism

John Barnes causes controversy on Twitter for what he said about a Romanian fourth official accused of a racism remark made last night.

The former Liverpool and England player has come out in defence of the official at the centre of race allegations following PSG’s abandoned Champions League game with Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday night.

Players accused Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu of racially abusing Basaksehir’s assistant coach in the early stages of the match, which prompted both sides to walk from the pitch.

The Group H clash was suspended halfway through the first half after Pierre Webo, Basaksehir’s assistant manager, protesting a decision on the touchline.

As the referee walked over, footage shows Coltescu identifying Webo by saying: ‘The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that’.

It’s believed Coltescu said ‘negru’, the Romanian word for black.

Barnes went on social media to have his say, making it clear to followers that he believed the official made an honest mistake, and was only fulfilling duties of passing information on to the referee.

When told by one user on Twitter that there are many ways to identify somebody without referring to their race, Barnes hit back: ‘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 added: ‘[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?’

Another user said to Barnes that the official should have simply asked the name of the person he was talking about, but the football pundit again stuck to his guns.

Barnes replied: ‘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 continued, offering his view that he saw no issue with the language used if it was the correct wording when spoken in Romanian.

Barnes said: ‘And even if he said negro… if thats the romanian word for black… whats wrong with that?’

At the time of the incident, Webo heard the officials remarks towards him and immediately accused Coltescu of racism. He was restrained by other coaching staff as he was shown a straight red card.

Demba Ba stormed in the direction of Coltescu to question why he had used the word to identify Webo.

Cameras picked up him saying: ‘You never say “this white guy”, you say “this guy”, so why when you’re mentioning him… listen to me… why when you mention a black guy, why do you say “this black guy”.’

Coltescu is a top-flight referee in Romania, but could be officiating in his final European campaign after being demoted by FIFA.

Last night he apologised, saying: ‘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.’

A UEFA statement later read: ‘Following an incident at tonight’s UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir, UEFA has – after discussion with both clubs – decided on an exceptional basis to have the remaining minutes of the match played tomorrow with a new team of match officials.

‘The kick-off has been set at 18:55CET. A thorough investigation on the incident that took place will be opened immediately.’

As mentioned, John Barnes causes controversy for what he said about fourth official accused of racism…


Away from John Barnes and his controversy on the official being accused of racism, he told Millwall fans to ‘shut up and support your team’ if they don’t agree with players supporting an anti-racist message by taking the knee before matches.

Last time at The Den, it was Derby that won and taking them off bottom of the Championship table.

Barnes told LBC: “As far as I’m concerned it’s about anti-discrimination, it’s about equality.

“I don’t think any footballer takes a knee in support of defunding the police.

“For me, Black Lives Matter is about exactly what it says, about equality for all.”

When asked by host Andrew Castle whether fans don’t like being told what to think and to say, Barnes replied: “They’re not asking fans to do anything. If you don’t agree with what footballers are doing, keep your mouth shut.

“Keep your mouth shut, support your team.”

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