Pick a football site, any football site. Right now the raging topic of discussion is the abominably racist behavior of some Chelsea fans on a Paris subway platform in advance of the club’s Champions League Round of 16 match vs. Paris St. Germaine yesterday. What the heck, try The Guardian.
Many of you know that I’m a Chelsea supporter. And if you know football, you know that the Blues have a history. Their legendary hooligans, the Headhunters, rated their own chapter in How Soccer Explains the World, and if you go back a few decades you’ll learn that once upon a time the racism infesting the club’s fan culture was so vile that they abused their own black player.
Some of them, anyway. Certainly not all. And CFC is hardly the only club with its Neanderthals. Still, we’re not talking about other clubs today, we’re talking about that obscene little minority who have managed to stain all our reputations.
Most of us Chelsea supporters abhor racism, but I don’t want to just assume that everyone knows this. I don’t want to take it for granted, and I’m not going to let this moment pass without standing up and making clear that those losers do not represent me, they do not represent my friends in the Rocky Mountain Blues and Shed End Seattle, they do not represent the club, and they do not represent the modern generation of football supporters, regardless of club. Too often in life we find ourselves by the actions of others because we don’t step up and make our objections clear. Not today.
This evening I very proudly joined a new group called Chelsea Fans Against Racism, which has as its mission statement a pretty straightforward rejection of everything the men in Paris stand for.
No longer will we tolerate our names and our club to be associated with racism. Racism has no place in our society whatsoever and Chelsea fans reject it unequivocally.
Among the group’s organizers is Paul Canoville, the club’s first black player and the target of the intramural hatred noted above. I’m happy to stand with Paul and the rest of the group’s membership in making clear that whatever our history may have been, our future is one where there’s no place for racism.
As for the perpetrators of the appalling display in Paris:
- Identify them.
- Ban them from ever attending another match, either at Stamford Bridge or anywhere else.
- Hand them over to the French authorities, where they will each face a €45,000 fine and three years in prison.
Keep the blue flag flying high.