PARIS (Reuters) - The victim of a racist incident involving Chelsea fans on the Paris metro did not know the incident was filmed and widely broadcast and will now lodge an official complaint with police, he told Le Parisien.
“I don’t speak a word of English ... but it was clear to me they were picking on me because of the colour of my skin,” said the victim, identified by the French daily as Souleymane, 33.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has started an investigation to find the people responsible for chanting: “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it” as they stopped a black man boarding a train on Tuesday.
Chelsea reacted on Thursday by suspending three people from their Stamford Bridge stadium following an internal investigation.
“If it is deemed there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in the incident the club will issue banning orders for life,” the English Premier League leaders said in a statement.
The incident was captured on video by another passenger on the platform at the Richelieu-Drouot station before Chelsea drew 1-1 with Paris St Germain in Tuesday night’s Champions League last 16 first-leg tie at the Parc des Princes.
“I took the next metro and went back home without telling anyone, not even my wife or kids,” said Souleymane after an incident he said lasted six or seven minutes.
“What would I have told my kids? That daddy was pushed in the metro because he’s black?”.
Police said no arrests were made in relation to the match but amateur footage posted on The Guardian newspaper’s website (www.theguardian.com) clearly showed the incident, which has been widely condemned by soccer authorities including Sepp Blatter, president of governing body FIFA.
“We firmly condemn this intolerable act of discrimination. Only the values of sport should inspire the football fans. They value the gathering of all, whatever their origins,” said a statement from PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi.
“Sport must carry the spirit of fraternity. This problem concerns all club officials and calls for vigilance.”
French League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez said his organisation was considering filing a civil suit.
“What happened is intolerable,” he added in a statement.
“Football must fight racism on a daily basis. It’s a priority. And it’s in the name of that priority that we wish to file a civil suit. I welcome the English authorities and Chelsea FC’s reactivity who are at our side in that fight.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is expected to address the incident at a news conference on Friday.
The Premier League’s only black manager Chris Ramsey, in charge of Queens Park Rangers, said Chelsea should not be blamed for the behaviour of their fans.
Souleymane told Le Parisien he was used to racism but it was the first time it happened to him on the Paris underground.
“I didn’t know I had been filmed. Talking about this now encourages me to lodge a complaint with the police,” he said.
The Metropolitan Police in London has appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
Reporting by Ingrid Melander and Julien Pretot, editing by Janet Lawrence and Justin Palmer