French President Francois Hollande reached out to support a black man who was berated in a Paris metro station Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The incident was widely condemned by other politicians, soccer officials and the Chelsea Football Club’s leadership, even as it shed light on European soccer’s continuing issues with fan racism. The Chelsea F.C. fans were recorded pushing a 33-year-old man, identified as Souleymane S., out of a Metro train and chanting, “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.” The man’s last name has not been released.
Hollande told Souleymane he had his full support. The Chelsea F.C. banned five people connected with the incident from team grounds, and it invited Souleymane to attend Chelsea’s next game in Paris. Souleymane declined the offer, saying he was thankful, but couldn’t “get my head around being in a stadium at the moment.” Chelsea captain John Terry issued a statement, calling the incident “unacceptable.”
Some Chelsea fans unveiled anti-racism banners and signs at the club’s game against the Burnley F.C. at Chelsea’s home Stamford Bridge stadium Friday, and many have taken to social media to speak out against racism in soccer fandom.
Paris Metropolitan police released Friday still images of three offending Chelsea fans taken from surveillance video. The fans were in Paris to attend Chelsea’s match with the Paris St.-Germain F.C. Wednesday. The original video shot by a bystander appears below:
The offending fans “should be locked up,” Souleymane said. He added: “For me, it’s a humiliation. I was humiliated in my country. I was humiliated in front of my family, humiliated in front of my mother and father.”
Meanwhile, the British Transport Police are investigating what appears to be another racist incident involving two Chelsea fans after Wednesday’s game. The one allegedly happened at London’s St. Pancras train station, where there are connections to continental Europe. Two fans reportedly chanted racist slogans at the station similar to those chanted by the fans in Paris. Police will hold a summit with major British soccer clubs and sponsors to discuss how they can help tackle the problem, according to BBC News.