It seems that Chelsea fans may once again be at the centre of a racism storm after yet another incident of racist and abusive behaviour on board a train.
On Sunday, following Chelsea’s Capital One Cup final victory over Tottenham at Wembley, the British Transport police (BTP) were called to deal with a group of men acting aggressively on a London to Manchester train.
Witnesses told how the football fans, avowedly Chelsea supporters, intimidated others on board the train with their disruptive and abusive behaviour.
Michael Leahy, 29, said: “The chants ranged from innocuous […] to sexist, to outright racist.” Mr Leahy confirmed that they were Chelsea fans. “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.”
One witness managed to video the incident on their mobile phone. The footage is now being investigated by police.
BTP officers waiting for the train’s arrival at Stoke asked four men to leave the train whilst four others left voluntarily. 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.”
Following the recent incident where a black man was prevented from boarding the Paris Metro by Chelsea fans, for which five men have been suspended by the club, it is clear that more needs to be done to let football fans know that racism is not acceptable and will be met with harsh consequences.
Although steps have been taken to target racist fans – such as the signs which read 'Racist chanting may lead to arrest' placed along Wembley Way – suspension arguably is not a severe enough punishment for what is an illegal offence and should be dealt with via the court not just the club.
A Chelsea spokesman said: “We are aware of the reports but it is not clear at this time if this incident involves Chelsea supporters.” They added, “If it did then we will assist the British Transport police with their inquiries.”
Responding to Sunday’s incident Chelsea manager José Mourinho, who previously spoke out against the Paris incident and insisted that the men involved were not true Chelsea fans in his eyes, said:: “The only thing I can say is, and I repeat, Chelsea was very, very strong and couldn't do more than we did (over Paris). We will do the same in every circumstance.” He continued, “But again, I have to repeat – and I can be even more specific this time – the Chelsea fans are the ones at Wembley. I really don't know what happened outside […] But the club is strong to fight it.”
A police investigation into Sunday’s incident is underway and anyway witnesses should contact their local police with information.