Football: Chelsea condemn racist Paris train fans
Written by Morenike Adebayo on February 18, 2015
Chelsea said on Wednesday that they were prepared to ban self-proclaimed racist fans who were filmed preventing a black man from boarding a Paris subway train, branding their behaviour “abhorrent”. Amateur footage obtained by The Guardian newspaper captured the incident in a Metro station shortly before Chelsea’s 1-1 Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Tuesday evening.
It shows a group of men chanting “Chelsea, Chelsea!” standing in a packed train waiting at a platform. The unidentified black man repeatedly tries to squeeze into the carriage and they aggressively push him back. The film then cuts to the men chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it!” In a statement, Chelsea said: “Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society.
“We will support any criminal action against those involved, and should evidence point to involvement of Chelsea season-ticket holders or members, the club will take the strongest possible action against them, including banning orders.” European football’s governing body UEFA condemned the fans’ behaviour, but said that because the incident had occurred outside the stadium, it was not within its jurisdiction to act upon it.
“UEFA condemns all forms of discrimination and we are appalled by the incident which took place in the Paris Metro on Tuesday,” the organisation said in a statement. “However, as it occurred away from the stadium, it is outside UEFA’s remit to act. It is a matter for the local authorities to investigate further and UEFA supports any action that is taken.” Sepp Blatter, president of world governing body FIFA, also expressed disgust over what had happened.
“I also condemn the actions of a small group of Chelsea fans in Paris,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is no place for racism in football!” The footage was filmed by Paul Nolan, a Briton living in Paris. He told The Guardian he was “completely appalled” by what he saw at Richelieu-Drouot station in central Paris. Chelsea fanzine editor David Johnstone expressed fears for the club’s reputation in light of the incident.
“I think the majority of Chelsea supporters are disgusted by what’s happened,” he told BBC radio. “The 2,000 who were in Paris today (Tuesday) support a Jewish-owned football team where the majority of players are black and foreign.” English football grappled with serious racism throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when black players were regularly subjected to verbal abuse by supporters.
It has since been largely disappeared from English grounds, although there have been a number of high-profile incidents involving players in recent years. Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 ($340,000, 300,000 euros) in 2012 after the Football Association found that he had racially abused an opponent. He retired from the England team as a result.
Herman Ouseley, chairman of anti-racism organisation Kick it Out, said the incident in Paris showed that there was still much work to be done to combat discrimination. “Clearly it sends out a strong signal to, not only Chelsea, but the whole of football, that you cannot be complacent and think the actions you’re taking are sufficient to deal with the scourge of racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism,” he said. “We’ve got to do a lot more and not be complacent.”
The Football Supporters’ Federation, which represents fans in England and Wales, said in a statement: “This is a shocking incident and the overwhelming majority of Chelsea fans will be disgusted by it. “There’s no place in society for this type of behaviour, and we back Chelsea FC’s strong stance.