Chelsea race row fans face jail sentence

Frank Dalleres
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CHELSEA fans who pushed a black man off a Paris Metro train and chanted racist songs could face three years in prison, five-figure fines and bans from football matches if found guilty.

French and British police yesterday both launched investigations into the incident, which took place before Chelsea’s Champions League 1-1 draw against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night and was filmed by a British ex-pat.

The Premier League club appealed for witnesses to help identify the alleged culprits, saying they would support criminal action and ban any individuals known to be season-ticket holders or members, while the footage attracted condemnation from across the game.

European governing body Uefa said it would not punish Chelsea as the incident fell outside its remit, which is limited to the behaviour of supporters inside and just outside stadia.

The recording shows a black man twice attempting to board a busy carriage containing what appear to be Chelsea fans, but twice being forcibly expelled back onto the platform at the Richelieu-Drouot station. It then depicts the fans singing: “We’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”

French police are investigating the incident as a possible case of racial violence on public transport, which can carry a three-year custodial sentence in addition to a fine of €45,000 (£33,000).

The Metropolitan Police said it would “examine the footage with a view to seeing if we can apply for foot- Chelsea race row fans face jail sentence ball banning orders, preventing people from travelling from future matches.”

Chelsea asked those present to contact them in confidence and report their observations. They added: “Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society. We will support any criminal action against those involved in such behaviour, and should evidence point to the involvement of Chelsea season ticket holders or members the club will take the strongest possible action against them including banning orders.”

The Football Association said it supported Chelsea’s stance, adding: “The FA, like the club, completely condemn such disgraceful behaviour, which is a criminal offence, and those responsible should face the strongest possible punishment.”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter used Twitter to condemn the actions of “a small group of Chelsea fans in Paris”. It is the second successive season in which a group of Chelsea fans have been accused of violence while in the French capital. In April it was claimed that some caused damage to cafes and shops and made Nazi salutes before fighting with hard-line Paris Saint- Germain supporters.

The chairman of anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out, Lord Ouseley, said the latest flashpoint served as a reminder that football needed to do more to tackle prejudice. He said: “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 antisemitism.”

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