Slavia Prague deserved to be in Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Over the two legs, they were worthy of beating Rangers.
Jindrich Trpisovsky has built a very good squad that has also beaten Leicester City on their way to meeting Arsenal in the last eight.
The head coach and a few of his players – such as Abdallah Sima, Nicolae Stanciu and Alexander Bah – are on the radar of bigger clubs in higher-quality leagues around Europe.
But all of that means absolutely nothing at the moment.
The headlines are around Slavia’s Ondrej Kudela, and his alleged racist abuse towards the Light Blues midfielder, Glen Kamara.
Through his lawyer, Kamara issued a strongly-worded statement on Friday evening. It came across as honest and sincere.
He claims that Kudela said to him: “You are a f****** monkey, you know you are”.
It’s no wonder Kamara was instantly shocked and horrified.
And it’s no wonder it sparked such a strong reaction from everyone at Rangers, both on the park and off it.
It’s also claimed that Kamara’s team-mate, Bongani Zungu, heard the remark.
I’ve no reason to doubt Kamara’s version of events. I don’t know him, but he always comes across as a decent fella, and he has a good reputation in the game.
But what I think about all of this is of no consequence.
It is now in the hands of UEFA. It’s up to them, and they have to up their game.
The way UEFA have dealt with racism in the past has clearly not been good enough.
The message that it will not be tolerated is not being hammered home.
There has to be a full and thorough investigation into the events at Ibrox last Thursday night.
European football’s governing body must get to the bottom of exactly what went on, and there must be full transparency.
It’s not nearly enough for UEFA just to talk about things, and hand out fines of a few thousand Euros here and there.
That does not tackle racism properly, and it does not get to the heart of the issue.
I’m not sure what the ultimate sanction should be. I’m not sure what is absolutely appropriate.
I’ve heard people say that, if found guilty, Kudela should be banned from football for at least a year, and Slavia thrown out of the Europa League.
I’m all for every possible punishment being looked at and considered.
UEFA need to find more efficient ways of dealing with this vile verbal abuse, and of handing out sterner punishments to guilty parties.
Make no mistake, the administrators in Nyon find themselves in the spotlight and under the microscope with this one.
It cannot be allowed to be swept under the carpet and disappear.
We will all keep an eye on how this disgusting episode unfolds.
It was a very unsavoury end to what was a very good Europa League campaign for Rangers.
Getting to the last 16 was real success for Steven Gerrard and his squad. Success shouldn’t always be measured on whether you win the trophy or not.
They just didn’t quite have enough to get through on Thursday night, but they were up against a team who, I felt, used an unsavoury game plan over the two legs.
Slavia’s players were happy to go down easy and roll around, screaming, at every opportunity.
They were out to make life difficult for the referee, wind up the opposition and disrupt any flow in Rangers’ play.
That was all very unfortunate for Steven and his players, but it worked for Slavia.
I just don’t think the Czech side will make any friends and gain any more plaudits if they continue to go about their business in that manner.
For Rangers, they can look back on the past eight months of the Europa campaign with enormous satisfaction.
Their next journey into Europe will be in Champions League qualifiers in the summer, and they will all have benefited from this campaign.
It’s just horrible it all had to end this way – for Glen Kamara more than anyone.
We can only hope justice is done in the coming weeks.
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