JOSE Mourinho admitted Chelsea were “ashamed” after fans racially abused a black man on the Paris Metro on Tuesday night.
A commuter, identified in media reports as French-Mauritian Souleymane S, was blocked from boarding a train by fans travelling to the Parc des Princes for the Champions League match against Paris St Germain, which finished 1-1.
Footage captured by a bystander appears to show Souleymane being pushed back on to the platform amid chants of “we’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”.
The club had already suspended three men while its investigations continued, and last night announced that two more people would be barred.
“Chelsea Football Club has suspended a further two people from Stamford Bridge as a result of ongoing investigations into the incident on the Paris Metro on Tuesday evening. This makes a total of five to date,” a statement on the club website said. “If it is deemed there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in the incident, the club will issue banning orders for life.”
The club’s investigation is being undertaken in conjunction with the Metropolitan and Paris police.
Chelsea insist they have apologised in writing to Souleymane and invited him and his family to London to attend the second leg of the European clash against PSG on 11 March, while a spokesman stated that owner Roman Abramovich is “disgusted” by the incident.
In an interview given to BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday, Souleymane argued that Chelsea hold a degree of liability for the conduct of their fans and has yet to receive any contact from Stamford Bridge.
“Chelsea are partly responsible and I have brought a complaint. They have partial responsibility because it’s their supporters,” Souleymane said.
“Chelsea need to call my lawyers and they haven’t done that yet, unlike PSG. Their director general has called my lawyer and he called me. I haven’t had any reply from Chelsea. Nothing.”
Mourinho, speaking about the incident for the first time, has revealed his own anguish but stresses that the men involved should not be viewed as genuine fans of the club.
“We feel ashamed but maybe we shouldn’t because we – I – refuse to be connected with these people,” Mourinho said. “I’m connected with Chelsea and the many good things this club defends and represents. I left Chelsea in 2007 and I couldn’t wait to come back.
“I felt ashamed when I knew what happened, but I repeat I’m a proud Chelsea manager because I know what this club is. I feel ashamed to have been connected with this sad episode that happened and I have no more words.”
Mourinho, who wants Souleymane to visit Stamford Bridge because he “probably has the wrong idea about Chelsea”, confirmed that his views are shared in the dressing room.
“The reaction of the players is the same reaction that we all have,” said Mourinho. “I have a squad at Chelsea where 12 or 14 players have African nationality or an African connection.
“Our dressing room has always had big principles of equality over everything – race, religion, everything. So the dressing room reacted in the same way I did, with disappointment and obviously condemning the situation and supporting the gentleman involved.
“But there is also the feeling that while we feel ashamed, maybe we shouldn’t because we are not this and these people don’t belong to us.
“Since minute one we have done absolutely everything because we have zero tolerance to this. We have to keep feeling our club is a great club and has no space for people like this.”
The issue dominated Mourinho’s weekly press conference ahead of today’s Premier League match against Burnley at Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea will look to extend their seven-point lead at the top of the table.
The reverse fixture was the opening match of the season, and Burnley gave themselves the perfect start on their return to the top flight when Scott Arfield fired them into the lead at Turf Moor. But Chelsea set the trend for their season by turning on the style to come back and win 3-1. Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton said: “Physically they were excellent, the application and the attitude. I was really impressed by them and I think they were probably the best team we’ve faced so far.”
Last week’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester United coupled with other results saw Burnley slip back into the relegation zone but the mood around the club remains relaxed and positive. Heaton said: “There’s still a long way to go and a lot of points to play for. We don’t want to be in the bottom three. We don’t duck our heads in the sand but the important thing is we focus on what’s right in front of us.
“We’ve done that, certainly since I’ve been at the club, and I think that’s probably the best way to go about it.”