Tomas Soucek defends Ondrej Kudela over racism ban
Kudela was found guilty of racially abusing Ranger midfielder Glen Kamara in March.
West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek has defended his Czech Republic teammate Ondrej Kudela, branding his 10-match suspension for racist abuse as "absurd".
Kudela was handed the ban after being found guilty of abusing Rangers player Glen Kamara during Slavia Prague's last-16 tie against the Glasgow club. The 34-year-old centre-back appealed against the ban, but UEFA dismissed the appeal in May and upheld their finding of "racist behaviour."
The ban meant that Kudela was ineligible to play for his country at the upcoming European Championships.
However, ahead of the Czech Republic kicking off their campaign against Scotland on Monday, West Ham's Tomas Soucek has defended his fellow countryman, insisting that he knows "him so well that I can't imagine him saying anything racist."
The midfielder, who has been one of the stars of the Premier League this season, told Czech website iDNES: "At West Ham, everyone asked me about it and why he said it [to Kamara].
"And I fought for Ondrej all the time. I believe that he did not tell him anything racist, no-one proved anything about him.
"Yet a lot of people in the UK condemned him and he received a heavy sentence of 10 matches from UEFA. I found it absurd. I know him so well that I can't imagine him saying anything racist.
"I see how sensitive the British are to racism every day. Two cultures collide because we think a little differently than they do.
"Of course, it's right they want to fight racism, but sometimes they go to such extremes that, in my opinion, it's counterproductive.
"It's hard for me to understand and I tell myself that when they go looking for racism in everything they can never get rid of it completely. On the contrary, they are harming themselves.
"Slowly, one is afraid to say anything so as not to offend or slander someone. And I think that's wrong."
Hmmm. Thinking a "little differently" about racism is an interesting take. And it seems that Tomas thinks softer punishments for racist abuse would be better?
Soucek has also claimed that players in the Premier League will not be taking the knee before games next season, saying that it does not "have much of the original impact anymore."
He said: "We've been doing it all season, but it will probably be cancelled before the next one as it doesn't have much of the original impact anymore.
"There are more fights here, we recently boycotted social networks for five days to show that we are against discrimination and insults on the internet.
"But it's like everything -- an interesting gesture that will attract attention, but will it help anything? That's the question."
The Scotland team has already made it clear that none of its players will be taking the knee before matches at the tournament, in stark contrast to the stance of the England team.