Victim of Chelsea fans' racial abuse in Paris speaks up, wants guilty to be punished
The victim of the Chelsea fans’ racial abuse in the Paris Metro, has come forth and called for the perpetrators to be punished. The man who identified himself as 33-year-old Souleymane S, told French media that the released video of the abuse had encouraged him to file an official police report.
A video of a group of Chelsea fans racially abusing a black man in the Paris Metro had surfaced on Wednesday. The footage showed the group repeatedly preventing the victim from entering a train and singing, "We're racist, we're racist and that's the way we like it."
The incident took place at the Richelieu-Drouot station in the centre of Paris on Tuesday after a Champions League match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.
Souleymane said that he was not particularly surprised by the abuse because he “lives with racism.” A French-Mauritanian born in Paris, he is the father of three children. He said that he didn’t understand what the fans were saying but that he knew he was being targeted because of the colour of his skin.
Transport officers arrived on the scene eventually but they only wanted to make sure that a fight didn’t break loose.
“These people should not go unpunished”
He said that he didn’t know about the video and had kept the incident quiet but had now mustered the confidence to file a complaint. He said, “I wanted to get on to the carriage, but a group of English supporters blocked me and pushed me back. I tried to force a gap and get on. In the scrum, I lost my phone.”
“They were saying things to me in English but I didn’t really understand what they were saying. I don’t speak a word of English.”
He also said, “I understood they were Chelsea fans and made the link with the PSG match that night. I also understood very well that they were targeting me because of the colour of my skin. You know, I live with racism; I wasn’t really surprised at what happened to me, even if it was the first time in the metro.”
He said he “faced them down for a long time”.
He also added, “Afterwards someone came and said to me that I’d been brave to resist people like that. In my view, the incident lasted around six or seven minutes. After a while transport staff intervened, but only to ensure there wasn’t a fight. Their objective was to get the transport moving again.”
“No passenger came to my defence, but in any case what could one have done? Then the train moved on and I waited for the next one. I got home and didn’t mention the incident to anyone, neither my wife nor my children ... And what would I have said to my children? That daddy was pushed off the metro because he was black? That’s pointless.”
Shown the video by Le Parisien, he said: “I didn’t know I was filmed. The fact that I’m talking about it now gives me courage to go to the police and file a complaint ... These people, these English fans should be found, punished and locked up. What happened should not go unpunished.”
The stance taken by different authorities
London's Metropolitan Police have claimed that they are taking the incident "very seriously". In a statement they said that they will assist the French authorities in identifying the people involved and support them in any action they chose to take.
Chelsea FC have also extended their cooperation to the investigation and said that any fans involved will face ban. A spokesman for the club said the fans' actions had “no place in football or society”.
British expatriate Paul Nolan, who filmed the incident on his phone described the incidence as an "ugly scene" and "very aggressive". Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, he said that he could hear World War Two references in the racist chanting.