A black man abused on Paris metro by Chelsea 'fans' wants his attackers to be punished
The man identified as Souleymane S. intends to make a police complaint
He was speaking in interview with Le Parisien newspaper
A black man who was physically stopped from getting on the Paris metro by soccer fans says they should be “locked up” and that he intends to make a complaint.
Filmed on a mobile phone by a bystander waiting on the platform of Richelieu-Drouot station, the incident took place before a Champions League tie between English club Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
The group, who appear to be Chelsea supporters, can be heard chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”
The French newspaper Le Parisien has tracked down the metro passenger at the center of the incident, identifying him only as Souleymane S, a father-of-three who was born in Paris.
“What happened should not go unpunished,” he told Le Parisien. “These people, these English supporters, should be found, punished and should be locked up.
“Having talked about it now gives me the courage to go to the police with a complaint. In any case, I intend to go to anti racism associations.”
On his way home from his work as a chief operating officer in business near the metro station, Souleymane S says he was not surprised to find himself a victim of an apparent racist incident.
“They said things to me in English but I didn’t really understand the meaning of what they said,” he explained to Le Parisien. “I don’t speak a word of English.
“I understood that Chelsea supporters were involved and I made the link with the PSG match.
“I also understood that they were attacking me because of the color of my skin.
“You know, I live with racism, I wasn’t really surprised by what happened to me, even if it was the first time in the metro.
“I stayed for a long time in front of them. One person came to say that I had been brave to resist people like that.
“No (metro) user took up my defense but, in any case, what could one do?”
While the metro moved out of the Richelieu-Drouot station with the Chelsea fans on board, Souleymane S waited to catch the next train and went home.
The 33-year-old said he did not tell anyone about what happened, even though he realized he had lost his phone during the scramble with the soccer supporters.
He did not know the altercation had been filmed by British expatriate Paul Nolan, who broke the story by sending the video to British newspaper The Guardian, which then posted it on its website.
“I returned home without telling anyone about what had happened, not my wife nor my children,” said Souleymane S told le Parisien.
“What would I say to my children? That papa was shoved in the metro because he was black? That’s useless.”
Souleymane S may have been unaware of the ramifications of the incident but it has acted as a catalyst to more soul searching about soccer’s seeming inability to root out racism in the global game.
Chelsea has vowed to support any criminal action brought against its fans involved in the Paris altercation.
“Such behavior is abhorrent and has no place in football or society,” the English Premier League club said in a statement released Wednesday.
“We will support any criminal action against those involved in such behavior, 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.”
Both French and British police have said they will analyze the footage.
UEFA, the body which governs European football, said it was appalled by the footage, but as it occurred outside of the stadium it could not take any punitive action.
Sepp Blatter, the president of football’s global governing body FIFA, also took to Twitter to register his disapproval.
“I also condemn the actions of a small group of Chelsea fans in Paris,” tweeted Blatter. “There is no place for racism in football!”
Queens Park Rangers boss Chris Ramsey – the only black manager in the English Premier League – was asked to comment on the incident in Paris during his media conference, Thursday.
“I don’t believe they are Chelsea fans or fans of football,” said Ramsey. “I believe they are acting in a manner which we all think is a thing of the past.
“Those views are intrinsic in everyday life. I’ve been saying for a long time these are social issues which manifest themselves in the football world.
“It would be good to see what the authorities are going to do to either weed these people out, what sanctions they’re going to enforce, to try to make this an avoidable situation in the future.”
This is not the first racism allegation to be leveled against London club Chelsea in recent times.
In 2012, team captain John Terry was banned for four matches and fined $356,000 for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
Terry was, however, found not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July of the same year.
Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, the brother of Anton Ferdinand, questioned whether football has the power to eradicate racism.
“The racist scene on the metro with the Chelsea fans - disgraceful behavior obviously. But can football change this? Does it have the power?” he wrote on Twitter, Thursday.
“Football has come a long way since the 70’s & 80’s but are we all guilty of becoming a bit complacent?
“Football has done a lot over the years to combat racism..but society has to do more to make change or is there too much hatred in society?”