Chelsea football fans convicted of racist violence on Paris Metro
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Four Chelsea fans have been given suspended one-year sentences by a French court after being accused of aggravated violence against a black man. After chanting “we are racist and that’s the way we like it”, Joshua Parsons, 22, and James Fairbairn, 25, denied that their actions against Frenchman Souleymane Sylla were racist in nature. Whilst the other two supporters, Richard Barklie, a 52-year-old former policeman, and William Simpson, 27, were tried in absentia, Parsons turned to his victim in court and claimed he hadn’t been racist “in any way” for what he’d done. Unsurprisingly, the Palais de Justice had a different opinion, one that sided rather more with Sylla’s description of the experience as “humiliating”. On top of the sentences, the four men were also ordered to pay Sylla 10,000 euros (around £8,500) in compensation. The hearing at the court watched a video showing the fans preventing Sylla from boarding the Metro. The video, filmed at Richelieu-Drouot station hours before Paris Saint Germain welcomed Chelsea in a key Champions League match, showed the men physically throwing Sylla off the train more than once. The footage was originally released in February 2015 and sparked widespread criticism and condemnation. Chelsea released a statement describing the scenes as “abhorrent”, with “no place in football or society”, and stated that any season-ticket holders or club members involved would face the strongest possible action. With the exception of Simpson, all of the Chelsea fans sentenced have already been banned from football stadiums in Britain.
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