Football: Chelsea fans spark new football racism storm

18th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

French and British police on Wednesday launched a hunt for self-proclaimed "racist" Chelsea football fans who pushed a black man off a Paris metro train.

A new storm of controversy over racial abuse in the sport erupted after amateur video emerged showing fans preventing the man from boarding and then chanting: "We're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it!"

English Premier League leaders Chelsea called the affair "abhorrent" and launched an appeal for witnesses to contact the club.

French politicians demanded "sanctions" after the incident in the centre of the French capital before Chelsea's 1-1 Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.

The supporters repeatedly pushed back the man each time he tried to get on the packed carriage, in footage obtained by The Guardian newspaper.

A black woman is later seen leaving the carriage as insults are shouted inside.

French prosecutors said they have opened an investigation into "deliberate racial violence on public transport".

"We will work with British police. These people must be known," a French police source told AFP.

London police confirmed that they would assist the French investigation.

"We will examine the footage with a view to seeing if we can apply for football banning orders, preventing people from travelling from future matches," said a New Scotland Yard statement.

Meanwhile, British prime minister David Cameron said the incident was "extremely disturbing and very worrying".

- Criminal action -

The images shocked the football establishment.

In a statement, Chelsea called the incident "abhorrent".

"We will support any criminal action against those involved," the club said. It added that those involved could be banned from matches.

European football's governing body UEFA said it was "appalled" by the fans' behaviour, but could do nothing as the incident occurred away from PSG's stadium.

Sepp Blatter, president of world governing body FIFA, wrote on Twitter: "I also condemn the actions of a small group of Chelsea fans in Paris. There is no place for racism in football!"

England's Football Association said: "The FA, like the club, completely condemn such disgraceful behaviour, which is a criminal offence, and those responsible should face the strongest possible punishment."

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.

A Chelsea supporter who claimed to have been on the train said the man had only been pushed away because the carriage was full.

"He tried to get on and a few people were pushing him off because there wasn't much space on the carriage. You couldn't move," Mitchell McCoy, 17, told Britain's Press Association, denying there was any racist intent.

But Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, deputy leader of France's conservative opposition UMP party, called the Chelsea fan violence "abject and intolerable". She said in a Twitter comment that "sanctions are essential".

- 'Becoming the norm' -

France's Representative Council for Black Associations (CRAN) said the Chelsea fans had imposed "apartheid" in the Paris metro.

"This racism is not the exception, it is becoming the norm in one of the most popular sports which generates a lot of money," CRAN said in a statement.

Chelsea fanzine editor David Johnstone expressed fears for the club's reputation, telling BBC radio "all the supporters are going to be labelled as racist".

English football grappled with serious racism throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when black players were regularly subjected to verbal abuse by supporters.

While that problem has eased, 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 for racially abusing an opponent. He retired from the England team as a result.

Herman Ouseley, chairman of anti-racism organisation Kick it Out, said the Paris incident highlighted how much still has to be done to fight discrimination in football.

"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.

The video can be viewed at:

© 2015 AFP

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