Chelsea football fans convicted of racism in Paris metro

Chelsea's Diego Costa scores during an English Premier League match against Stoke City. Photo / AP
Chelsea's Diego Costa scores during an English Premier League match against Stoke City. Photo / AP

Four Chelsea football fans charged with racist violence have been found guilty in a trial in Paris, almost two years after they allegedly blocked a black man from boarding a Paris metro train.

The French court handed them suspended sentences of six to 12 months.

Richard Barklie, a 52-year-old former police officer in the Northern Ireland RUC, and William Simpson, 27, who failed to turn up for their trial in Paris' criminal court, received year-long suspended sentences.

The other two defendants, Joshua Parsons, 22, from Dorking, Surrey, who lost his London finance job after the incident and described himself as a trainee scaffolder, and James Fairbairn, 25, a civil engineer, were handed suspended terms of eight and six months respectively.

The incident happened in February 2015 before a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain.

Video showed Souleymane 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".

Sylla said: "That's things we used to see in films actually. I used to hear the story of Rosa Parks," the American civil rights pioneer arrested in 1955 for refusing to give her bus seat to a white passenger.

"But I didn't believe it would happen to me", Sylla told FranceInfo radio.

During the trial, Parsons issued an apology, but despite the damning footage, he denied there was any racist aspect to the incident. "I am very sorry to Mr Sylla, but I was not racist in any way," he said, looking Sylla in the eye.

He admitted to preventing him from entering the carriage but claimed the racist chants had come from another carriage.

Under French law, the four faced maximum jail terms of up to seven years and a €100,000 fine on charges of "voluntary violence aggravated due to its racist nature".

Sylla said: "I haven't forgiven them and won't forgive them". He said he had struggled to recover from the traumatic incident.

The judge ordered the four men to pay €10,000 in collective compensation to Sylla, and €500 individually.

- additional reporting AP


- Daily Telegraph UK

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