PRAGUE -Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela has been banned for 10 matches for "racist behaviour" in their Europa League last-16 match against Scottish side Rangers last month, UEFA said on Wednesday.
Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara complained of being racially abused by Kudela during the second-leg game, which included a melee on the pitch and clashes in the tunnel afterwards.
Kudela's ban also rules him out of representative matches, meaning he will miss games for the Czech Republic in this year's European Championship.
Kamara has been suspended for three UEFA club competition games for assaulting another player.
Finland international Kamara was furious after Kudela leaned into his ear and said something while covering his mouth, sparking the fracas late in the match in Europe's second-tier club competition which Slavia won 2-0 to knock out the Scottish champions 3-1 on aggregate.
Kudela had said in a Slavia statement he swore at a Rangers player after being fouled, but denied using racist language. His club also alleged that Kudela was assaulted by Kamara after the game and they officially complained to Scottish police.
UEFA said in a statement https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/disciplinary/updates/0268-1209e2b360f2-f252e0b65268-1000-uefa-europa-league-rangers-fc-v-sk-slavia-praha on Wednesday that Kudela's ban includes the one-match provisional suspension served by the player during Slavia's Europa League quarter-final first leg against Arsenal this month.
Kudela said, via his lawyers, that he was "startled" by the ruling, because the investigator did not gather any convincing evidence of his alleged racism, which he denies.
Slavia President Jaroslav Tvrdik said the club respected the verdict.
"In any case, Ondrej Kudela should not have approached the opposition player. I deeply regret that and apologise to Glen Kamara for a situation that has clearly caused distress to him and his team mates, as well as everyone associated with Slavia and Rangers," he said in a statement on Slavia's website.
Kamara's lawyer Aamer Anwar tweeted that the 10-match ban on Kudela was the "barest minimum penalty, making a mockery of UEFA's claims on taking racism seriously".
Rangers forward Kemar Roofe, who was also subjected to racial abuse on social media after being shown a red card for a high challenge on Slavia goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar, was banned for four games.
The Scottish champions said the sanctions imposed on their players were "severe", adding they would seek clarification on the basis they intended to appeal the suspensions.
Rangers, who had two players sent off in the match, were fined 9,000 euros (US$10,800) for improper conduct.
Kamara said this month that he had been subjected to racist abuse online every day since his confrontation with Kudela.
Rangers said in a statement https://www.rangers.co.uk/article/club-statement-140421/3ZMrWU4jTwlF87q7fcchvl on Wednesday that they had met with Facebook and Instagram to hold constructive dialogue with the social media firms seeking better protection for players.
(US$1 = 0.8362 euros)
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Robert Muller in Prague; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond)