Victim of alleged fans’ racism says he was violently pushed

LONDON (AP) A man allegedly racially abused by Chelsea supporters in Paris says he was ”violently” pushed off a metro train.

A statement from Souleymane Sylla was read out on Thursday at a London court where four men are fighting police attempts to issue them with football banning orders, and deny wrongdoing.

Video showed Sylla being pushed off the train by Chelsea supporters, who were singing ”we’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.” It happened in February before a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain.

”When I approached them to enter the coach, one of them pushed me away violently to put me back on to the platform,” Sylla said in statement read out at Stratford Magistrates’ Court. ”I again approached the carriage, explaining to this person I wanted to get back on the train.

”He didn’t seem to understand what I said to him, and other supporters behind him were shouting and singing in English. As I don’t speak English, I didn’t understand what they said. Another person made a sign indicating to the color of the skin on his face.”

Richard Barklie, 50, Jordan Munday, 20, Josh Parsons, 20, and William Simpson, 26, all deny any racism. Defense lawyers for all four men said they were not chanting or being racist, and Sylla was pushed off the train simply because it was full.

Barklie, a former police officer in Northern Ireland who now works as a human rights activist, admitted pushing Sylla off the carriage. But Barklie insisted he had no ”racist motive,” and Sylla was the only one ”using aggression” by barging his way on to the train.

Speaking about video footage played in court, which shows him forcing Sylla off the train, Barklie said he put his hands up to protect himself.

”From what I’ve seen, and what I’ve viewed, (Sylla) was aggressively forcing himself into a space where there was none,” Barklie said.

The case was adjourned until next Wednesday when District Judge Gareth Branston will give his ruling.

A fifth man, 32-year-old Dean Callis from north London, has already received a five-year banning order from football matches for his role in Paris and other incidents involving violence.