Five Chelsea FC fans have been banned from all football matches for up to five years over an incident of racism in Paris in February, in court proceedings that concluded Wednesday.
The men, including former police officer Richard Barklie, were involved in an incident in which a black Frenchman was repeatedly shoved off a metro train carriage ahead of Chelsea FC‘s Champions League match against Paris Saint Germain.
“This was an abhorrent, nasty, offensive, arrogant and utterly unacceptable behaviour and cannot be allowed in modern, civilised society,” district judge Gareth Branston said at Stratford Magistrates Court in east London.
“It must be stamped out,” he said.
Branston said the 50-year-old Barklie and 20-year-old former finance worker Josh Parsons had played a leading role in the racist abuse and in pushing Souleymane Sylla off the train.
Four accused banned for five years, one for three years
He accused them of “aggressive, disorderly conduct”.
Barklie had defended himself in court, saying there was no racist motive in pushing Sylla and accusing the Frenchman of “aggression” for trying to board a crowded train.
Barklie, Parsons and William Simpson, 26, received court orders banning them from all football matches for five years.
A fourth fan, 20-year-old Jordan Munday, was accused of joining in racist chanting and banned for three years.
A fifth fan in the same case, Dean Callis, 32, has already received a five-year banning order for his role.
The incident, captured on the mobile phone of a British expatriate, sparked widespread condemnation and has already prompted Chelsea FC to ban the five supporters from Stamford Bridge.
Aftre the hearing, Barklie lamented the verdict and said he was “considering an appeal”.
“I have always accepted that I pushed Mr Sylla off the Metro,” Barklie said.
“The reason was because the Metro was crowded and there was no room for him to get onto that carriage…He was pushed off the train because there was no room and not because of the colour of his skin,” he added.
“It is important to remember that only after Mr Sylla had been pushed off did the racist singing start. I am not responsible for the actions of those around me.”
Meanwhile the Kick it Out group, which campaigns to rid football of racism, said: “This whole episode has shone a very negative light on English football and acts as a serious reminder to anybody else contemplating starting or joining in with such chants or behaviour in the future.”