Chelsea fan’s anti-racism campaign attracts thousands in bid to show the world the Blues’ true colours

A Chelsea fan’s anti-racism campaign has sparked worldwide support from Blues fans.

Ben Price started Chelsea Fans Against Racism after seeing the video of a black man, Souleymane S, not being allowed to board a Paris Metro train while supporters sang a racist song.

The 37-year-old Londoner’s Facebook group has attracted almost 3,000 fans from Africa to America, with the frontman of electro dance group The Shamen, Mr C, also a prominent supporter.

T-shirts bearing the group’s slogan “We Only See Blue” were displayed at Wednesday’s Champions League game with Paris St Germain and Mr Price distributed posters reading, ‘No to racism at the Bridge, that’s the way we like it’, in French and English.

Supporters also held aloft a club-sponsored giant banner proclaiming, ‘We Are All Blue’, while another banner organised by Chelsea Fans Against Racism will now hang permanently from the Matthew Harding Stand.

Mr Price told South West Londoner: “I saw those images off the Paris Metro and I was disgusted and sickened.

“It reminded me of the civil rights movement in America or apartheid in South Africa. Being brought up in multi-cultural London, I didn’t think this kind of thing existed anymore.

“What happened that night drew a line in the sand for a lot of Chelsea fans.

“We wanted to let Souleymane S, FIFA, the FA and the rest of the world know this is not representative of Chelsea, that this contingent of people are not welcome at our ground.”

Ben Price

Mr Price hopes to grow his campaign by involving fans from other Premier League clubs.

The Norwich-based gardener has been going to Chelsea games since 1990 and stresses that attitudes at Stamford Bridge have improved greatly since those days.

He said: “There was still National Front hanging around outside trying to sell their horrible pamphlets.

“I’ve gone from there to a world where you’ve got children, wives and mothers from so many ethnic backgrounds and I don’t see anyone with fear or feeling uncomfortable about expressing themselves at the games.

“There is a hunger from many fans of our generation who want to make a stand about this. This is about Chelsea fans being proactive and showing the true nature of Chelsea fans.”I hope this initiative shows the world what Chelsea are.”

Other Chelsea supporters’ groups have also backed Blues fans after a slew of recent negative publicity.

Last week, a YouGov poll said 43% of Londoner surveyed after the Paris incident had a negative impression of Chelsea supporters.

Tim Rolls, chairman of the Chelsea Supporters Trust, told South West Londoner: “I’ve been going to Chelsea for over 40 years. I haven’t personally seen an incident like what happened in Paris for over 30 years.

“That’s an awfully long time. You don’t hear racist chanting. I also live near Twickenham Rugby ground and I wouldn’t say that the behaviour of the vast majority of Chelsea football supporters was any worse than rugby supporters.”

David Johnstone, spokesman for the cfcuk fanzine, backed the view that such offenders constitute a dwindling number of football fans.

“It’s a tiny minority of all people who attend all football matches who are offensive, who are racist. The overwhelming majority are law-abiding people,” he told South West Londoner.

“It’s a lingering image problem that is totally alien to what’s going on at Stamford Bridge now. The days of the National Front selling their newspaper outside Stamford Bridge are long gone.”

Feature image courtesy of Ben Sutherland, and inset image of Ben Price courtesy of Mandy Irons, with thanks

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