RANGERS manager Steven Gerrard spoke to the press after tonight's match against Slavia Prague at Ibrox - read the press conference in full.
Speaking after the game, Steven Gerrard said:
"I think first and foremost it is important to say that sometimes during your career and around football sometimes things happen that are more important than the game and that are above football and that is what has happened tonight. First and foremost, I'll deal with the football side we were beat by the better team over the two legs, congratulations to Slavia. I think they deserved it over the two games in no way, shape or form are we going to sit here and be a bad loser and come out with any excuses. I am really proud of my players in terms of the effort and the journey they have took us on considering it was manoeuvred through a title race as well so I can't be any more proud of them from a football point of view. Although over the course of the two games we were beaten by the better team.
"In terms of the other incident I have to be very careful what I say but you build relationships in football and I have built a very very strong relationship with Glen Kamara. Glen Kamara to me is one of my own, like all of them in that dressing room and I 100 per cent believe what he is saying in terms of the accusation. Other players around it heard it so I will stand toe to toe with Glen Kamara and I will deal with this however Glen Kamara wants to deal with it. I am proud of all my players tonight for showing solidarity and from the top of this club to the bottom we stand with the players. It is over to UEFA now this situation and I just hope it doesn't get brushed under the carpet."
Given the efforts from everyone in football this season to try and stamp out incidents like this that appear to have happened, how disheartening is it that something like this is still able to happen?
"I feel angry, it is difficult to describe now how I feel because I know Glen and I trust him 100 per cent and it is extremely disappointing. There's too much of it happening around football and the Slavia player has caused this and he has also caused a situation to escalate even further because straight away you get all the fans joining in and again the racism grows and grows. Something needs to happen quickly, that is above me, but 100 per cent whatever happens moving forward I stand next to Glen Kamara."
Can you confirm that Glen Kamara says he was racially abused and have you then taken this up with Slavia Prague and what have they said?
"Yes, there was a lot of commotion around that we tried to defuse and this will be dealt with by UEFA. They will take this upon them and I'm sure they will speak to both players and we will let other people deal with it. All I can confirm is that my player tells me he was racially abused. I tried to call Glen over during the game, he didn't come over, I was going to ask him did he want to leave the pitch and I would've backed him whatever his decision was. The players stayed on the pitch that was their decision and the game obviously came to a conclusion. This will be taken out of my hands now and it will be dealt with by UEFA. I just hope with all my heart that people deal with it because that situation is not normal. If I wanted to say something to you on a football pitch, why do I need to cover my mouth and go to the ear. The game is done in terms of the result at the time, we have got nine-men, they are 2-0 up, there's absolutely no need for it and the disappointing thing for me is that there's people trying to defend the opposition player. Their people are trying to defend him, calling us liars but that is for other people to decide but all I can say now is I stand by Glen Kamara."
As well as the incident on the pitch, it seems that Kemar Roofe has been getting some racist abuse on his Instagram feed?
"It escalates from the situation, from a football point of view we have got no complaints we hold our hands up and we were beaten by the better team over the two legs. Kemar deserved the red card, if he goes with his head the situation could've been different but somethings are above football right now and I don't even feel like talking about football right now.
Is the concern if something isn't done now, we have seen these incidents before, that UEFA really has to make a stand now in order to stamp it out?
"All we can do is hope and keep trying to do everything we can."
The togetherness that you spoke about with your team it was evident at all levels of the club tonight, is that something that you can take pride in about the reaction of your players?
"I've said it many times from a football point of view I can't be any more proud of my players. Obviously the incident tonight has soured a game against two good teams. I don't think there was much in the game, they get the goal which puts them in a good position and we have done everything we can to try and get back into the game. We brought Kemar on to try and change the situation to try and force a goal because at that point we needed a goal. The big turning point in terms of the outcome was the red card and then we obviously get another one a bit later on but there will be a time and a place to talk about this game in detail and there will be a time and a place to analyse the game but right now I can't get the incident that has come towards the end of the game out of my system."
How is Glen, apparently he was back out on the pitch after the game and was devastated, that's what we have heard?
"I think devastated is an understatement. This is a cool, calm kid and it is not him to accuse someone of anything. I trust Glen 100 per cent with my life."
There's a lot of dust still to settle and a lot of raw emotion that is clear, how do you look to guide your players and to lift them and get them in the right frame of mind for another big game coming up on Sunday?
"We'll try and move forward after this press conference, I have already spoken to the players. Tomorrow we will come in, we will recover and we will try and move forward and look forward to a big game at the weekend. I think it is important to stress we are not using this to deflect from a couple of performances where we have fell short and I will always try to be honest in my reflection and hands up the better team qualified, congratulations to them. Come kick-off on Sunday we will have a team out there ready to try and win an Old Firm. We will be right up for it that's my job to pick them up and prepare them in the best way I can. Right now at the moment there's certain things that are bigger than football and that's what is going through my head right now."
You spoke about trying to speak to Glen but you couldn't as the game was going on but Connor Goldson was visibly furious, was there any point the players could've of come of the pitch or Connor considered taking his team off the pitch?
"Having spoke to them afterwards they said that it didn't cross their mind. They wanted to continue, you could see they were affected by the situation. In that situation for me it was important to try and get some communication with Glen, I got brief communication with him to try and get him to come and see me to speak to him and he wanted to continue. I have asked him why he didn't come to see me and he said he wanted to continue and for the game to carry on but he said he wasn't thinking straight at the time."
It is not an easy one to answer but what do you think should happen?
"It is probably not my thing to say but we can't just let incidents like this go away from us and be forgotten and wait for the next one to happen. There's too much hard work and too many people trying to do everything they can to eradicate it from the game but the only people that can eradicate it from the game are the ones that are way above me in high places that have got the power to change situations like this. It just doesn't make sense for someone to accuse someone of that if it wasn't true. It doesn't make sense to go to someone's ear and cover your mouth with your hands and shout that down someone's ear when the game is 2-0 and done. It doesn't make sense any way but that is what their player has done so I am hoping people can see the common sense side of it and deal with it properly."
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