In the aftermath of a shocking incident caught on film in which racist UK soccer fans pushed a black man off a Paris subway train refusing to let him ride, the victim has come forward and made a police complaint against the racists, several of whom have been identified already.
Chelsea fans on Tuesday prevented the man, identified as Souleyman S, a 33-year-old father of three and native Parisian of Mauritanian heritage, from boarding the train with repeated violent pushes, later shouting "we're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it!"
An interview with Souleyman on BBC can be seen here:
When he first came forward with his case, Souleyman told Le Parisien that he works in a company near the Richelieu-Drouot subway station where the incident occurred.
"I wanted to get on to the carriage, but a group of English supporters blocked me and pushed me back. I tried to force a gap and get on. In the scrum, I lost my phone," he said.
Souleyman continued "I understood they were Chelsea fans and made the link with the PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) match that night. I also understood very well that they were targeting me because of the color of my skin. You know, I live with racism; I wasn’t really surprised at what happened to me, even if it was the first time in the metro."
The Paris native recalls that he "faced them down for a long time," and that "afterwards someone came and said to me that I’d been brave to resist people like that. In my view, the incident lasted around six or seven minutes. After a while transport staff intervened, but only to ensure there wasn’t a fight. Their objective was to get the transport moving again."
"No passenger came to my defense, but in any case what could one have done? Then the train moved on and I waited for the next one," he said. "I didn’t know I was filmed. The fact that I’m talking about it now gives me courage to go to the police and file a complaint. …These English fans should be found, punished and locked up. What happened should not go unpunished."
Paris prosecutors said Souleyman's complaint was received on Thursday night, and that any of the assailants if convicted could serve up to three years in jail and be imposed a fine of up to 33,000 pounds (over $50,700).
Souleyman said he didn't tell his three children about the incident, remarking "what would I have said to my children? That daddy was pushed off the metro because he was black? That’s pointless."
Three racist fans suspended
Chelsea suspended three fans on Thursday for taking part in the racist incident, as the video footage has begun to reveal perpetrators.
A spokesperson for the team said "Chelsea Football Club is suspending three people from Stamford Bridge as a result of investigations into the incident on the Paris Metro on Tuesday. If it is deemed there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in the incident, the club will issue banning orders for life."
"We have received substantial information to date following our witness appeal," he added. "Our investigations are on-going and we would request any further information is sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also continue to cooperate fully with the Metropolitan and Paris police forces who lead the ongoing criminal investigation."
One Chelsea fan identified as being in the front row of fans pushing Souleyman off the train is Josh Parsons, who together with his brother Benji who was also on the train were sent warning letters by the soccer team but apparently not related to racism, reports Daily Mail.
Parsons's boss Miranda Khadr said he wouldn't be coming in to work on Friday at the Business and Commercial Finance Club in central London, saying "at this stage we are in a situation where this is very much Josh and his personal matters. Should he be charged we will be looking at taking action."
"He is very scared at the moment and he called me to say he is not coming in today. He is not that type of person at all, he works with me and I'm not English. He is a 21-year-old little boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time," she claimed.
Parsons has yet to speak about the case, and the British paper reports he didn't answer calls.
Aside from chanting "we're racist," there are reports that the Chelsea fans also sang anti-Semitic songs and made the sound of gas escaping, in a disgusting reference to the gas chambers of the Holocaust.