During Chelsea’s excellent 2-0 victory over defending Premier League champions Manchester City, a video was posted on social media that appeared to show a Chelsea fan hurling racial abuse at Raheem Sterling. The video was picked up by BT Sport host Jake Humphrey, who said that BT would be passing their footage onto the police.
It was then retweeted by many former black players, including Rio Ferdinand and Ian Wright, who both concluded that we had returned to the dark ages. The video also became the focus of the nations press, who’s journalists had also seen and tweeted their two cents on what they believed they had seen.
Matthew Syed, of the Times, who regularly writes hateful pieces on Chelsea and Abramovich tweeted that he was “pretty certain” that the Chelsea supporter had screamed racial abuse at Raheem Sterling. And on first viewing I agreed, it looked for sure that the supporter had shouted “Black ****” at Sterling.
But then again, I’m not an expert lip reader nor did I have any proof that those words had been used. Some Chelsea supporters took to twitter to defend him, claiming that he clearly says “manc ****”. However I found this stance uneasy, as Sterling, who was born and raised in London before moving to Liverpool, could hardly be described as a manc.
It wasn’t easy to say for certain that racial abuse had taken place, but this story already had legs and had laced up its running shoes. The incident was in all the papers and appeared on the 24/7 BBC rolling news channel. And this has continued all week, with the alleged offender being named, alongside his wife and children, with the Daily Mail even publishing a picture of his house. This has now been further fueled by accusations of anti-Semitic chanting when Chelsea played Mol Vidi in Hungary.
Even that was a bit far for Syed, who tweeted “The chap who shouted at Sterling has been named. His house has appeared online. Crucial to remember that he should be presumed innocent of any crime. It was important for his actions to be brought to the attention of the police & authorities. Let’s allow them to do their job”
It was a bit late for Mr Wing to be presumed innocent when he had been tried, tested and sentence all within a couple of hours on social media. He had already lost his job by the time the Daily Mail article was published, despite not being charged with any offence.
On the Tuesday after the game, the Sun published a short article where two independent lip readers had concluded that Mr Wing had said Manc and not black. Was he just guilty of being a Chelsea supporter?
It has seemed that any incidents of misbehaviour of Chelsea supporters seem to be front page news. The week before this incident a Tottenham fan threw a banana at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. If you compare the coverage received it’s been brushed under the carpet.
Being one of the most hated clubs in the country, for our success and the way we achieved it, this attention comes with the territory. But, we’ve only got ourselves to blame for the way these stories blow up.
Our club has a troubled history with racism. You’ve only got to listen to friend of the fancast Paul Canoville, to understand how bad it was for black players at Stamford Bridge in the 80’s. We have of course come a very long way since those days, and I feel sorry for the club given the work they do to combat all forms of racism.
Incidents like the Paris Metro are damaging the club, but these idiots still exist. And we all have a responsibility to help weed them out of the game. The club and the FA need to help support people who want to report racial abuse and it needs fast and impacting action.
Fancast regular Alex Churchill spoke to BBC 5 Live about some of the racial abuse she has received following Chelsea. She made the point that it was pointless to ring the police and say some bloke in a red shirt has just racially abused me outside Anfield. I felt similar about an incident at our away game with Bournemouth last year.
When a guy a few rows behind me shouted “get that black **** off” in reference to Bakayoko. I didn’t see who shouted it, and wasn’t even sure about how to report it. And in the end I felt pretty helpless.
The quicker we accept that fact that these attitudes and this behaviour is present in our fan base the better.
While there is a case that their is some sort of media agenda against Chelsea, they wouldn’t be able to post articles about us being racist if our fans hadn’t been caught being racist. Of course the media take some responsibility to the way they portray minorities in the press, as highlighted by Raheem Sterling on Instagram.
But the ultimate responsibility must lie with ourselves and us alone can change the attitudes and behaviour inside Stamford Bridge and the Chelsea fan base.
Black or white…. we’re all blue.