A French court, on Wednesday, handed suspended jail terms to four Chelsea football fans over a racist incident before a Champions league match and ordered them to pay the victim 10,000 euros (USD 10,400) in compensation.
The men were among Chelsea fans seen in video footage chanting, “We are racist, we are racist and that’s the way we like it,” as they pushed back a black man trying to board a Paris metro train in the incident in February 2015.
After a one-day trial, the court gave suspended one-year sentences to Richard Barklie, a 52-year-old former policeman, and William Simpson, 27, neither of whom attended the trial in the French capital.
Joshua Parsons, 22, a former pupil of the elite Millfield school in England, now working in the building trade, and James Fairbairn, 25, a civil engineer, were given suspended terms of eight and six months respectively.
The court ordered the men collectively to pay 10,000 euros to the victim, Souleymane Sylla. After giving evidence, Parsons apologised to Sylla, a Frenchman of Mauritanian origin, but denied there was any racist aspect to the incident.
Turning to Sylla in court, Parsons said: “I am very sorry to Mr Sylla, but I was not racist in any way.” The incident was recorded by a passenger and widely used in the British and French media.
Under French law, they could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined 100,000 euros. Barklie, Simpson and Parsons have already been banned from football stadiums in Britain over their role in the incident.