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French man abused by Chelsea fans wants to help club tackle racism

By Dominic Harris

Published 22/07/2015

Richard Barklie (circled) aboard the Paris train on which Chelsea fans subjected a man to racist abuse
Richard Barklie (circled) aboard the Paris train on which Chelsea fans subjected a man to racist abuse

A French man who was racially abused and pushed off a Paris Metro train by Chelsea fans has said he will come to the UK and help "eradicate" racism if the club invites him.

Souleymane Sylla was repeatedly pushed backwards off a carriage amid chants of "we're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it" as Chelsea supporters travelled to their club's Champions League match against Paris St Germain on February 17.

Five men were given football banning orders of up to five years today, and all received lifetime bans from the club.

Mr Sylla said his life was still "shaken up" after the incident and that he is not working and on medication.

But after refusing an offer from Chelsea shortly after the incident to visit the club - when fans raised money for him to come over - he has now decided he will come if he can help in the battle against racism in football.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I plan to go. When they first invited me it was early on. I did refuse their invitation, I just want to do it at a later stage. I had an open wound and it was hurting me, so I couldn't go out and I was scared.

"But the door is open. Even if Chelsea want to invite me I will go. We will talk about racism and everything about racism to try to eradicate it in the world of football.

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"I am 200% up for this, even in the future. I want it to be my fight."

Mr Sylla said both he and his family are still "traumatised" by what happened five months ago.

He told Radio 5 Live: "My life has been shaken up. I am on medication, I am traumatised - not only me, but my children are traumatised too.

"Because of them I no longer work. Because of them insulting me in the train my life has been turned upside down. I take anti-depressants, I'm taking them now. Imagine that for five months - a father who has worked all his life, the head of the family who now can't work because of those people.

"It's not normal in my opinion. The only thing I want is for justice to be done and for them to be extradited."

He also denied that he had anything to do with starting the incident, saying: "The world saw the images. If I was aggressive or if I started it there would have been an investigation into it.

"But you know very well I am not aggressive at work and I have maintained the good upbringing I got from my parents. They're the ones who started it, they were proud of what they were doing."

 

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