3 Mar 2015

Police launch inquiry into new claims of racist abuse by Chelsea fans

Witnesses have described how football fans who they claim were Chelsea supporters shouted racist abuse and intimidated other passengers on a train after the club won the League Cup on Sunday.

Police have launched an investigation after receiving reports of racist and abusive behaviour from football fans on the train. British Transport police (BTP) said officers were called to meet the train as it arrived at Stoke station, and asked four men to leave. Four others left of their own accord.

One passenger who was on the London to Manchester train told the Guardian it was clear that the fans were Chelsea supporters.
“They were chanting and singing from the moment they sat down, for the majority of their journey,” said Michael Leahy, a 29-year old scientist from Manchester. “It was obvious they were Chelsea fans – they were chanting at times about John Terry, Gianfranco Zola, disparaging other London clubs, how they’d won the cup on Sunday and chanting about Tottenham.

“The chants ranged from innocuous (drinking beer and not wanting to return to work on Monday) to sexist, to outright racist (“I’d rather be a Paki than a grass”), in particular directed towards someone who I can only assume contacted the train manager in relation to the rowdy behaviour of the fans.”
Another witness, who wished to remain anonymous, said the fans were not wearing Chelsea colours but were chanting “about how they’d just won the League Cup and how they’re top of the league”.
“I wasn’t in the carriage for very long as I moved about 15-20 minutes into the journey, but just before the train set off a young girl asked them to be quiet and was confronted by a man who wasn’t very pleasant to her and pressed his finger against her face.

“Then she pushed his hand away and he dropped his drink and continued shouting in her face and demanded she buy him another drink. His friends were chanting his name as this was happening and then the girl began to cry but he carried on and then she left the train.”
A BTP spokesman said: “Shortly after 10.30pm on Sunday 1 March, officers were called to meet a Euston-to-Manchester Piccadilly train at Stoke following reports of racist and abusive behaviour by a number of passengers, said to be football fans.
“Colleagues from Staffordshire police also attended. Officers asked four men to leave the train at Stoke. We have spoken to two witnesses, and investigations continue.”
The spokesman said officers were investigating passengers’ claims that the abusive fans were Chelsea supporters.

Chelsea won the League Cup on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley. Supporters were warned before the match to be on their best behaviour and were greeted by a sign that read: “Racist chanting may lead to arrest”.

The west London club has been at the centre of a number of incidents of racism among its fans recently. Last month, Chelsea fans were filmed on the Paris Métro shouting racist chants and refusing to allow a black man on to a train carriage after the Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain. The club suspended five supporters in connection with the incident. Another group of fans returning from Paris were heard shouting racist chants at London’s St Pancras station.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “We are aware of the reports but it is not clear at this time if this incident involves Chelsea supporters. If it did then we will assist the British Transport police with their inquiries.”

Credit: Mark Tran/Elena Cresci/Guardian Sport

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