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Paris court orders Chelsea fans to compensate metro racist incident victim

Victim Souleymane Sylla with his lawyer Jim Michel-Gabriel on Tuesday
Victim Souleymane Sylla with his lawyer Jim Michel-Gabriel on Tuesday AFP

A Paris court on Tuesday gave four Chelsea fans suspended prison sentences and ordered them to pay the victim compensation for pushing a black man off a metro train while chanting racist invective.


The verdict came almost two years after a video of the incident brought global notoriety to supporters of the west London club, who chanted "We are racist, we are racist and that's the way we like it", as they prevented Souleymane Sylla from getting into a carriage on the Paris metro.

After a one-day trial the court gave suspended one-year sentences to Richard Barklie, a 52-year-old former Northern Ireland police oficer, and William Simpson, 27, neither of whom attended the trial.

Joshua Parsons, 22, a former pupil of the elite Millfield school in England who now works in the building trade, and James Fairbairn, 25, a civil engineer, were given suspended prison terms of eight and six months respectively.

The court also ordered the men collectivley to pay Sylla, a Frenchman of Mauritanian origin, 10,000 euros in compensation.

Justice done

The trial revisited the February 2015 incident that took place before a Champions League clash in the French capital against Paris Saint-Germain.

After giving evidence, Parsons apologised to Sylla, a 35-year-old Frenchman of Mauritanian origin but denied his actions had been racist.

Sylla, a commuter who did not attend the match, told the court he believed he was going to die in the incident and had been left traumatised afterwards, which affected his work and his marriage.

"He has not been able to lead a normal life for 18 months," his lawyer Jim Michel-Gabriel told the court.

"Justice has been done," Sylla commented after the verdict.

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