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Chelsea football fans convicted of racist violence on Paris metro


France

Chelsea football fans convicted of racist violence on Paris metro

Four Chelsea football followers have been convicted of racist violence in Paris after a black commuter was abused on the metro two years ago.

Souleymane Sylla was pushed and prevented from boarding the carriage as fans chanted “we’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it”.

The episode happened two years ago before Chelsea played a Champions League match in the French capital.

It was caught on CCTV film which was used as evidence, along with video taken by another British passenger which was published by the Guardian.

After the verdict the victim, a 35-year-old salesman, said: “I feel a sense of justice. Justice has been done. I thank my lawyer, and all the campaign groups.”

Reminded by a journalist that the accused had denied it was a racist act, Sylla replied: “That’s what he says. Everyone knows what happened. No need to repeat it.”

“We are very happy. Justice has been done, and it’s good that we are finally recognising in this country today quite simply that racist chants can be punished,” added Sylla’s lawyer Jim Michel-Gabriel.


James Fairbairn, 25, had denied racism but was given a six-month suspended sentence. Josh Parsons, also present in court, received eight months suspended. His lawyer had complained of “media hysteria”.

Two other men tried in their absence – Richard Barklie and William Simpson – got 12-month suspended sentences.

After the incident a UK court banned the men from football for up to five years; Chelsea condemned the behaviour and excluded their followers for life.

The prosecutor said the trial was a defining moment in anti-racism cases and a “clear-cut example” of racism.

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