LONDON (AFP) - Five Chelsea fans who were banned from all football matches for up to five years over an incident of racism in Paris in February, in court proceedings that concluded Wednesday have also been barred for life from attending fixtures at the English champions’ Stamford Bridge ground.
The men, including former police officer Richard Barklie, were involved in an incident in which a black Frenchman was repeatedly shoved off a metro train carriage ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League match against Paris Saint Germain.
“This was an abhorrent, nasty, offensive, arrogant and utterly unacceptable behaviour and cannot be allowed in modern, civilised society,” district judge Gareth Branston said at Stratford Magistrates Court in east London.
“It must be stamped out.”
Branston said the 50-year-old Barklie – who is a director with the World Human Rights Forum – and 20-year-old former finance worker Josh Parsons had played a leading role in the racist abuse and in pushing Souleymane Sylla off the train.
He accused them of “aggressive, disorderly conduct”.
Barklie had defended himself in court, saying there was no racist motive in pushing Sylla and accusing the Frenchman of “aggression” for trying to board a crowded train.
Barklie, Parsons and William Simpson, 26, received court orders banning them from all football matches for five years.
A fourth fan, 20-year-old Jordan Munday, was accused of joining in racist chanting and banned for three years.
A fifth fan in the same case, Dean Callis, 32, has already received a five-year banning order for his role.
Chelsea, following Wednesday’s court proceedings, said all five men would be banned for life from matches at Stamford Bridge, their home ground in west London.
“The behaviour of these five individuals was abhorrent, against all of the club’s values and falls way below the standards the club expects of supporters attending our games,” said a Chelsea statement.
“Therefore the club’s bans permanently prohibit any of these individuals from attending Stamford Bridge or purchasing tickets from the club for any future matches.”
It added: “Chelsea FC is proud of its diversity, which runs throughout the club – from our owner (Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich) to our multi-cultural playing squad and backroom team, the staff and our fans.
“We are also proud to support the work of Kick it Out and Show Racism the Red Card, among other organisations, as well as the work of the Premier League, UEFA and the Football Association.”
The incident, captured on the mobile phone of a British expatriate, sparked widespread condemnation.
After the hearing, Barklie lamented the verdict and said he was “considering an appeal”.
“I have always accepted that I pushed Mr Sylla off the Metro,” Barklie said.
“The reason was because the Metro was crowded and there was no room for him to get onto that carriage... He was pushed off the train because there was no room and not because of the colour of his skin,” he added.
“It is important to remember that only after Mr Sylla had been pushed off did the racist singing start. I am not responsible for the actions of those around me.”