The images of Chelsea F.C. supporters allegedly refusing to let a black man board a train on the Metro in Paris this week not only made me angry but made me physically ill.
Earlier in the week I’d been to a local cinema to review ‘Selma’ for The Derry Journal.
Despite the fact ‘Selma’ recollects an important part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr’s life from the 1960s I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between what I was watching on the big screen and what I was seeing on the news.
Racism is a cancer that not only continues to exist in football but it infects almost every strand of modern society. It should and must be challenged at every opportunity. The more times this is done the greater chance we have of ridding the world of racism altogether.
It’s with this belief in mind that I think Chelsea F.C. and the appropriate authorities (be that French or British police) should ensure that if any of the Chelsea fans involved in the disgusting exchange in Paris are found guilty of racism they should feel the full power of the law.
There are very few things that I feel as passionately about than the laissez-faire attitude displayed by some people when it comes to racism. It’s not good enough to simply shrug off what allegedly happened in Paris because it’s not Derry - we all have a social responsibility to make sure that racism is destroyed.
One Chelsea F.C. supporter who was on the train at the time the man was denied access to the carriage was 17 year-old Mitchell McCoy who claimed not only were they stopping black people from getting on the train but they refused to let white people and women get on too.
At around the same time as the incident, McCoy tweeted “our captain is a racist, a racist, a racist and that is why we love him, we love him, we love him.”
McCoy, who denied the Chelsea F.C. fans were being racist whilst chanting “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”, is not pictured on the video clips. However, he said the Chelsea fan responsible for pushing the black man from the train did so in “self-defence”.
If you think I am being awfully presumptuous then I apologise but McCoy’s account of what happened is utterly ridiculous.
I’ve been on the Metro many times in Paris and whilst it can be very busy at times there was plenty of room for both the man and the Chelsea fans. McCoy’s determined account that the reason he was stopped from getting on was to do with health and safety is perhaps one of the most stupid things I have ever heard.
It’s as clear as day that the reason the man is stopped from boarding the train is because of the colour of his skin.
Anyone reading this column should try thinking about what it is they can do to ensure such despicable scenes as the one witnessed in Paris during the week do not happen again.
As the saying goes “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
There should be a full investigation into what happened and if found guilty a lifetime ban from Stamford Bridge does not even come close to the punishment that must be dealt out.
Racism is ugly, disgusting and hideous. If found guilty, the Chelsea fans should be made an example of prosecuted in France!