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Police launch hunt for 'racist' Chelsea fan

updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu November 1, 2012
Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, right, appeared to be the target of alleged racist abuse during his side's defeat at Chelsea.
Manchester United's Danny Welbeck, right, appeared to be the target of alleged racist abuse during his side's defeat at Chelsea.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police launch investigation into allegations of "racist gesture" by Chelsea supporter
  • Supporter photographed in British national newspaper making alleged gesture
  • Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck appeared to be the target of alleged abuse
  • Chelsea promise to "take the strongest possible action, including criminal prosecution"

(CNN) -- English football's battle to eradicate racism suffered another blow on Thursday as police launched an investigation into allegations that a Chelsea supporter made a racist gesture towards a Manchester United player.

A photo of the fan making a "monkey" action, which appeared to be targeted at United's Danny Welbeck during a League Cup match that Chelsea won 5-4, was published in a British newspaper Thursday

Chelsea has launched its own investigation into the matter and has already promised to assist the police in any way possible.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police read: "Today, Thursday, November 1, police have received a complaint regarding alleged racist behavior at Stamford Bridge last night, Wednesday, October 31.

"An investigation has been launched. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue."

England midfielder Danny Rose claims he was subjected to monkey chants before, during and after the second-leg of their Under-21 Euro 2013 playoff match against Serbia on Tuesday, and had stones thrown at him by the crowd in Krusevac. Fans also ran on to the pitch and scuffles broke out after a 1-0 win secured England qualification for Euro 2013. England midfielder Danny Rose claims he was subjected to monkey chants before, during and after the second-leg of their Under-21 Euro 2013 playoff match against Serbia on Tuesday, and had stones thrown at him by the crowd in Krusevac. Fans also ran on to the pitch and scuffles broke out after a 1-0 win secured England qualification for Euro 2013.
Serbia scuffles
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Soccer racism in Eastern Europe Soccer racism in Eastern Europe
It is now nearly a year since Chelsea lost to QPR 1-0 in an English Premier League game at Loftus Road. During the game it was alleged QPR defender Anton Ferdinand swore at John Terry and made reference to the Chelsea captain's reported affair with the ex-partner of former team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry is then said to have described Ferdinand as a "f***ing black c***". It is now nearly a year since Chelsea lost to QPR 1-0 in an English Premier League game at Loftus Road. During the game it was alleged QPR defender Anton Ferdinand swore at John Terry and made reference to the Chelsea captain's reported affair with the ex-partner of former team-mate Wayne Bridge. Terry is then said to have described Ferdinand as a "f***ing black c***".
Where it all began
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Crime and Punishment in sport Crime and Punishment in sport
Walter Tull became the first black outfield player to play in the English top flight when he signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 1909. Tull was the subject of racist abuse, with one particular match against Bristol City leading to Tottenham selling him to Northampton Town. Walter Tull became the first black outfield player to play in the English top flight when he signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 1909. Tull was the subject of racist abuse, with one particular match against Bristol City leading to Tottenham selling him to Northampton Town.
Walter Tull
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Walter Tull: Black footballing pioneer Walter Tull: Black footballing pioneer

The incident follows Chelsea's claim that a referee made racial comments to one of the club's players during Sunday's 3-2 home defeat by United -- a controversial match in which the Premier League-leading team had two men sent off.

Chelsea lodge Clattenburg complaint

On Wednesday, Chelsea confirmed it had lodged a formal complaint with the Football Association after alleging that official Mark Clattenburg had used "inappropriate language towards John Obi Mikel.

Now the club has stated that it will take "the strongest possible action" against the supporter involved in Wednesday's incident.

"Chelsea Football Club can confirm we are investigating an incident involving a member of the crowd at last night's game against Manchester United," a spokesman said.

"The club will be examining all available footage and asks anyone who can identify the individual to contact the club.

"Chelsea FC is committed to removing all forms of discrimination and if we have sufficient evidence we will take the strongest possible action, including supporting criminal prosecution."

Police to investigate 'racist' referee in Chelsea case

Chelsea banned a supporter for life in March after finding them guilty of racially abusing the club's former striker Didier Drogba.

Club captain John Terry is currently serving a four-match domestic suspension after the FA found him guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand despite the former England international having been earlier cleared in court.

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