Chelsea suspend three fans in connection with racism investigation
Chelsea have suspended three supporters as part of the club’s investigation into a racist incident on the Paris Metro.
A black commuter was pushed back by what appeared to be a group of fans travelling to the Parc des Princes for the Champions League match against Paris St Germain on Tuesday evening.
A chant of "We’re racist and that’s the way we like it" from the Chelsea fans was clearly audible on a video of the incident.
On Thursday night Chelsea released a statement to announce three supporters had been identified and have been suspended, pending further investigation.
The swift action prevents those supporters from attending Saturday’s Premier League match with Burnley at Stamford Bridge, which has been designated a ‘Game for Equality’.
The supporters face life bans if they are found guilty.
The statement on chelseafc.com read: "Chelsea Football Club is suspending three people from Stamford Bridge as a result of investigations into the incident on the Paris Metro on Tuesday evening.
"If it is deemed there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in the incident, the club will issue banning orders for life.
"We have received substantial information to date following our witness appeal and we are grateful to the many Chelsea supporters who have provided information so far.
"Our investigations are on-going and we would request any further information is sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We also continue to cooperate fully with the Metropolitan and Paris police forces who lead the ongoing criminal investigation."
Paris prosecutors confirmed that the alleged victim, identified in media reports as Souleymane, had made a formal complaint.
The French authorities were working with their British counterparts and anyone convicted could face a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to 45,000 euro (£33,000).
In an interview with Le Parisien on Thursday, the man named by the newspaper as French-Mauritian Souleymane S called for those involved to be jailed.
He says he could not bear to tell his wife or children about what occurred on Tuesday afternoon at the Richelieu-Drouot Metro station.
The man, reported by Le Parisien to be a chief operating officer at a business close to the Metro station, told the newspaper: "These people, these English supporters, have to be found, punished and should be locked up. What happened shouldn’t go unpunished."
Chelsea released a statement describing the incident as "abhorrent" and vowed to take the "strongest possible" action if supporters are found to be involved.
The incident was condemned by Prime Minister David Cameron, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, UEFA, the Football Association, the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, the Football Supporters’ Federation and anti-racism groups Football Against Racism in Europe and Kick It Out.
Souleymane had no doubt about the reason he was blocked from entering the train carriage.
"I understood that they were attacking me because of the colour of my skin," he added.
"I wanted to get into the carriage but a group of English supporters blocked me and pushed me away. I tried to force my way on, I again tried to go back. In the jostling, I lost my phone.
"They were saying things in English to me but I wasn’t understanding what they were saying. I don’t speak a word of English.
"I understood that they were Chelsea supporters and I made the link with the PSG match which was taking place on the same evening.
"No user came to my defence but what could they do? You know, I live with racism, I wasn’t truly surprised by what was happening to me even if it was a first for me on the Metro.
"The Metro train left, and I waited for the next one.
"I went back to my home without talking to anyone about this story, not my wife or my children. What could I say to my children? That dad was shoved on the Metro because he is black? That wouldn’t be any use."
Chelsea’s first ever black player Paul Canoville said he was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" by the incident.