Players should be sanctioned if they cover their mouths while speaking to an opponent or the referee, former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf said on Wednesday.
Seedorf was talking to an online European Council hearing on racism at sports events and his comments come after a recent incident in a Europa League match between Scottish club Rangers and Slavia Prague.
Slavia’s Ondrej Kudela covered his mouth when speaking to Ranger’s Glen Kamara, who later accused him of making a racist comment — which the Czech player denied.
UEFA provisionally suspended Kudela for one match and said it was looking into Kudela for a potential violation of UEFA regulations over racism and other discriminatory conduct, and for misconduct such as insulting players.
It has become increasingly common for players to cover their mouths when talking to each other at the end of games or with their coaches or managers on the touchline but Seedorf said it needs to be outlawed between opponents.
“For me it should be banned for them to be able to speak like that when they are playing on the pitch, when they are approaching an adversary. We are talking about sport, it has to be transparent, so why would I cover my mouth if I need to say something to my adversary?” said the former AC Milan and Real Madrid player.
“If I talk with my coach, I talk with my team mates, all fine, but when I approach the referee, when I approach an adversary, in any sport, you (should) not (be) allowed to cover your mouth. If you do that there needs to be a sanction, to be a yellow card because we should avoid that kind of behaviour,” he said.
“I have seen stuff with players speaking and covering their mouth during matches. There were some racist situations in the last weeks or months where the players among themselves had hate speeches.
“Those things can be very easily attacked by implementing some rules,” he added.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)