A human rights official admits his involvement in Paris racism incident
Richard Barklie says he did not take part in racist chanting
The 50-year-old has apologized to the victim for his part
A human rights official has apologized for his part in an alleged racism incident involving Chelsea supporters on the Paris Metro, but has insisted he is not a racist.
Richard Barklie was one of three men identified by the UK’s Metropolitan Police in a video showing what appears to be a group of Chelsea fans preventing a black man from entering a train, following the English club’s UEFA Champions League game against Paris Saint Germain last Tuesday.
The group of supporters can be heard chanting on the train: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”
A director of the World Human Rights Forum, Barklie has issued a statement through his lawyers admitting his involvement “in an incident when a person now known to him as Souleymane S. was unable to enter a part of the train.”
However, the Chelsea season-ticket holder, who was formerly a Royal Ulster Constabulary and Police Service of Northern Ireland officer, denies he participated in the chanting and “condemns any behaviour supporting that.”
The statement read: “Pending formal engagement with police our client is anxious to put on record his total abhorrence for racism and any activity associated with it.
“As someone who has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and India he can point to a C.V. in human rights work which undermines any suggestion he is racist.
“Today a senior official in the World Human Rights Forum confirmed their support for him.”
The black man who was physically stopped from getting on the Paris Metro, identified as Souleymane S, has said those found guilty should be “locked up.”
Barklie offered his “sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by Mr Souleymane,” while saying he “has an account to give to police which will explain the context and circumstances” of the incident.
The statement went on to explain that the 50-year-old Barklie has traveled to Chelsea matches for over 20 years “without incident” and that he traveled alone to Paris for the UEFA Champions League clash.
Barklie – whose image was released by the Metropolitan Police along with two others – insists he “has no knowledge whatsoever” of the identities of the other people seen in the video footage of the incident.
The statement added that the Metropolitan Police have said arrangements are in hand “to take the investigation to the next stage.”
Chelsea confirmed Friday that it had suspended five people from attending games at its Stamford Bridge stadium and has apologized to the victim.
A club spokesperson also said that owner Roman Abramovich was “disgusted” by the incident, while manager Jose Mourinho said he was “ashamed.”
Mourinho invited Souleymane S. to attend the return match against Paris Saint Germain at Stamford Bridge, while at Chelsea’s English Premier League home match against Burnley Saturday – its first game since last week’s incident – fans were seen holding banners reading: “Black or white, we are all blue” and “No racism at the Bridge. That’s the way we like it.”
Former Chelsea player Paul Elliott, a member of the English Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, has welcomed the positive response in the UK to what happened.
“In 21st-Century, multi-racial Britain, sport is the catalyst and the key that engages and unites. For me it’s the most potent weapon for breaking down barriers,” Elliott said at the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards.
“The response to the Paris Metro incident has been so uplifting. Society has self-policed it, in the sense that it is so obviously unacceptable to people in the 21st Century.”
West Ham video
Rivals supporters have also had their say on the Paris Metro incident, with West Ham fans poking fun at their Chelsea counterparts in what has proved to be a viral hit.
A video posted online shows Hammers supporters on their way to an English Premier League game against Tottenham Sunday, saying “this is how we do it at West Ham” as they welcome a black man onto a train.