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Monday 18 December 2017

Chelsea fan: 'Song wasn't racist, we were singing about John Terry'

A Chelsea fan who witnessed a black man being prevented from boarding a train in Paris has defended the actions of the group, insisting they were singing about Blues captain John Terry and that other passengers were blocked from entry.

Chelsea have vowed to support criminal prosecutions and ban any fans after footage, posted on the Guardian website, showed the commuter trying to board a Metro train in the French capital.

He is blocked by what appears to be a group of Chelsea fans travelling to the Parc des Princes for the 1-1 draw with Paris St Germain on Tuesday night.

Mitchell McCoy was one of around 40 or 50 Chelsea supporters on the train and he stated they were singing about Terry, who was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 by the Football Association in October 2012 for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. In Terry's case, the regulatory commission stated that the Chelsea captain was "not a racist".

McCoy, a season-ticket holder who travelled to Paris with five friends, was named on Twitter following the publication of the video.

The 17-year-old from Fulham said: "I'm not in the video but I'm on the carriage. We got on the train and at the station where the man was trying to get on we stopped for a couple of minutes.

Read More: Chelsea condemn fans who pushed black man off Paris Metro 

"He tried to get on and a few people were pushing him off because there wasn't much space on the carriage. You couldn't move.

"People were saying it was because he was black. It's not true at all. I personally think it's because he was a PSG fan. Obviously they didn't want him anywhere with us.

"That guy in the video tried to force himself on, so they pushed him off."

Read More: Chelsea fan: 'Song wasn't racist, we were singing about John Terry'

A chant of "We're racist and that's the way we like it" is clearly audible on the video, but McCoy contended it was not about the passenger.

He added: "That song was about John Terry. The only words I know is 'he's a racist, he's a racist' and I don't know the rest."

Asked why that song was sung at that moment, he said: "I'm not sure. I didn't sing it.

"It wasn't just that one time that it happened. It wasn't just with the black people that we weren't letting on.

"There was white people, women that people weren't allowing on. There was no space.

"They were saying, 'You can't get on this carriage, you have to go somewhere else'."

McCoy believes fingers were pointed at him following "a stupid Tweet I did last night, (about) the John Terry song".

He is aware of Chelsea's plan to support any criminal prosecution and hand out banning orders to any supporters found to have offended.

"I wouldn't say (I am) worried, because I haven't done anything wrong, neither has any of my mates," he said.

"I don't see how that can be used against me because I'm not in the video.

"Of course we're concerned (about being banned). It wouldn't surprise me at all.

"(But) they ban you for anything. It wouldn't surprise me."

Asked if he would be prepared to help Chelsea identify those involved, McCoy added: "I don't recognise any of them so I wouldn't be much use."

FIFA president Sepp Blatter addressed race issues on Wednesday morning, initially referring to comments from former Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi.

"I also condemn the actions of a small group of Chelsea fans in Paris. There is no place for racism in football!" Blatter added.

UK police are investigating the video. A Scotland Yard spokesman said the force is examining the footage to see if it can apply for football banning orders "preventing people from travelling from future matches".

Chelsea released a statement condemning the incident and said they will take action if supporters are found to be involved.

"Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society," a club spokesman said.

"We will support any criminal action against those involved, and should evidence point to involvement of Chelsea season-ticket holders or members the club will take the strongest possible action against them, including banning orders."

Chelsea are working with the relevant authorities to identify if those involved have season tickets or any other connection to the club.

UEFA, European football's governing body and in charge of Tuesday night's Champions League match, said in a statement: "UEFA condems all forms of discrimination and we are appalled by the incident which took place in the Paris Metro on Tuesday.

"However, as it occurred away from the stadium, it is outside UEFA's remit to act.

"It is a matter for the local authorities to investigate further and UEFA supports any action that is taken."

Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley called for Chelsea, and football, to avoid complacency over incidents of a similar nature.

Lord Ouseley told Press Association Sport: "We know that prejudice is on the increase and that in itself leads to hateful attitudes and this sort of conduct.

"I was shocked that Chelsea fans were still behaving like this. I thought the club had made it quite clear and taken action about stopping any repetition, knowing Chelsea, how hard they've worked on these matters, with fans as well as players, that it was unlikely to occur.

"The fact it involved an assault as well, of the individual that they pushed off the train, was even more shocking.

"Clearly it sends out a strong signal to not only Chelsea, but the whole of football, that you cannot be complacent and think the actions you're taking are sufficient to deal with the scourge of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism. We've got to do a lot more and not be complacent."

Chelsea fanzine editor David Johnstone believes the incident could have severe consequences for the club's reputation.

"Because of the actions of possibly half a dozen people on a Metro train in Paris all the supporters are going to be labelled as racist," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I think the majority of Chelsea supporters are disgusted by what's happened. The 2,000 who were in Paris today support a Jewish-owned football team where the majority of players are black and foreign."

The Football Supporters' Federation also condemned the incident.

The FSF also appealed for information relating to a separate incident with reports supporters missed kick-off "having been held back by French police" and "reports that some fans were tear-gassed", it said on fsf.org.uk.

A statement from the Football Association read: "The FA fully supports Chelsea's position in seeking to ban any of the club's season-ticket holders or members who face criminal action in relation to these abhorrent scenes.

"The FA, like the club, completely condemn such disgraceful behaviour which is a criminal offence and those responsible should face the strongest possible punishment."

It is believed that should any evidence point to the involvement of any official England Supporters Travel Club members, the FA will take action to revoke their membership.

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