Saturday 3 December 2016

Racially abused Paris Metro commuter to attend PSG's Champions League clash with Chelsea

Published 09/02/2016 | 18:37

The commuter racially abused and blocked by Chelsea supporters from boarding a Paris Metro train has accepted an invitation from Paris St Germain to watch the London club's Champions League last-16 first leg at Parc des Princes next week.

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Souleymane Sylla, a French-Mauritian, 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 February 17, 2015 match with PSG.

Chelsea condemned the incident and five men were given football banning orders of up to five years last July. All received lifetime bans from the club.

Sylla was so traumatised he had to take six months off work and he used the Metro for the first time since the incident last Friday, February 5.

He declined an invitation from Chelsea to attend the return leg in London in March 2015, as the ordeal was too raw. The club extended their offer as an open invitation, which remains in place.

But he plans to go to this season's last-16 first leg on February 16, one day short of the anniversary of the incident.

Sylla's lawyer Jim Michel-Gabriel told Press Association Sport: "Paris St Germain invited my client to be there and I think he will be there, with me.

"He has decided to go to the match as life must carry on."

Chelsea's ticket allocation for the match was reduced by 700 to 1,400 in response to last November's terrorist atrocities in Paris, but the Metro incident, coupled with violence in the French capital surrounding last season's fixture, was also a factor.

Sylla's life was impacted greatly by the incident which occurred as he was returning home from work and videoed on a mobile phone by a bystander, with the published footage shocking viewers.

The father of three took six months off work and, after returning, travelled by car before last week returning to the Metro.

Michel-Gabriel added: "Maybe the supporters of Chelsea and Paris St Germain will think about what happened.

"He feels okay. He goes to the doctor once a week because he thinks about what happened one year ago.

"It was impossible for him to take the Metro. It was very hard for him.

"He feels better and he started (using the Metro) last Friday."

Legal proceedings relating to the case are ongoing in France, but Sylla wishes for a return to some normality.

"The case is still in justice, we don't know yet when we will go to the courts," Michel-Gabriel added.

"He thinks 'I have to take care of my family and I have to take care of myself.'"

It is the third year in a row Chelsea and PSG have been drawn together in the Champions League.

Chelsea won in 2014 on away goals, were defeated in 2015 on away goals and host the second leg at Stamford Bridge on March 9.

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