France striker Kylian Mbappe said it was time for action against racism when his Paris St Germain team followed Istanbul Basaksehir off the pitch in protest after the Turkish club accused a match official of racism on Tuesday.
The Champions League group game was suspended after 13 minutes after the players did not return to the pitch and all of them, as well as the three onfield referees, took a knee in protest against racism before the match resumed on Wednesday.
“Of course, I am proud of what was done. A lot of things were said but in fact, there’s nothing better than actions,” the 21-year-old Mbappe said after PSG beat Basaksehir 5-1 to top Champions League Group H.
The incident was sparked when Basaksehir’s assistant coach Pierre Webo was shown a red card for protesting against a refereeing decision and the Turkish side alleged that Romanian fourth official Sebastian Coltescu used a racist term towards Cameroonian Webo.
UEFA has launched an investigation into the incident.
“We are tired, we don’t want to go through this (racism incidents) again,” Mbappe said. “We’re all human beings and this was intolerable. People are fed up and we had to do something.
“Yesterday we were not disappointed not to play. We made that decision. We were proud. The more you let these things slide, the more you’re led to believe that it’s normal. But no, it’s not normal.”
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel backed his players.
“They made a strong decision, they stuck with the other team and made a brave decision,” he said.
“In the dressing-room it was clear that they wanted to show that reaction.”
Tuchel added that the topic was discussed at a team lunch on Wednesday, hours before the game restarted.
“We didn’t want to force the team to focus on sport. We had already prepared for the game the day before,” the German said.
“We realised that it was necessary to understand what had happened, and to show respect for every player’s feelings and opinions,” Tuchel added.
“It as an important situation for the team. It shows that some things are more important than sport.”