FourChelseafootballfanshavebeenconvictedofracismandgivensuspendedprisonsentencesaftera blackcommuterwas pushedoffaMétrocarriage inPariswhilefanschantedracistslogans.
The incident took place in February 2015 before a game between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain and was filmed by the British expatriate Paul Nolan.
In the amateur video, obtained by the Guardian, the man repeatedly tries to get on the crowded carriage but is pushed off by the group of fans. Moments after the same group of people can be heard singing: “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.”
The incident sparked an outcry over racism in sport, with politicians and the then French and British prime ministers condemning the attack.
Only two of the accused attended the criminal trial in Paris for aggravated racist violence. The other two were tried in their absence. The four were ordered to pay the victim €10,000 (£8,500) in total.
The French state prosecutor said the trial was a defining moment in anti-racism cases and a “clear-cut example” of racism.
Souleymane Sylla, the 35-year-old Parisian salesman who was repeatedly pushed out of the carriage, told the panel of three judges his life had been “shaken up” by the violence. He had had to stop work for different periods, did not use the Métro for nine months and had been on medication, he said.
“I am glad to see justice done.” said Sylla, adding “I have been waiting for justice for two years.”
Joshua Parsons, 22, from Dorking, Surrey, who lost his London finance job after the incident, described himself in court as a trainee scaffolder. He was convicted of racist violence and given an eight-month suspended prison sentence.
Questioned by the state prosecutor, Parsons said that after he pushed Sylla the first time, he chanted “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea,” and after he pushed him a second time, he chanted “Fuck the IRA”. He said the chant “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it” was shouted in another carriage; he did not sing it and he “did not like that chant”.
James Fairbairn, 25, a civil engineer from Kent, who also appeared in the Paris court, was convicted of racist violence and given a six-month suspended sentence.
He was accused in court of having made a hand gesture towards Sylla, in which he pointed his finger towards his face and neck to indicate that Sylla’s skin colour was the reason he was being pushed off the train. He was not accused of pushing Sylla.
Two other men, William Simpson, 37, from Ashford, and Richard Barklie, a former police officer in the Northern Ireland RUC, were not present in court. They were each given 12-month suspended prison sentences.
In July last year a UK magistrates court banned the four men from Chelsea and England football matches for the maximum of five years. Chelsea separately banned them for life from Stamford Bridge and from buying tickets, saying their behaviour was “abhorrent, against all of the club’s values and falls way below the standards the club expects of supporters attending our games”.
From The Guardian