Chelsea Coaches Accused of ‘Racist Bullying’ of Young Black Players During 1990s

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photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Getty Images

Court documents entered by four of the
10 Black former Chelsea youth players who’ve filed civil lawsuits
against the club allege a culture of “racist bullying” in the
1990s, including physical and verbal abuse by coaches Graham Rix and
Gwyn Williams.

Daniel Taylor of The Athletic reported
Thursday the court papers, filed ahead of a trial that begins March
7, include statements from one player who said Black players were “treated like a race of f–king dogs” and another who called it a “mini-apartheid state.”

Chelsea previously accepted an
investigative conclusion that Williams subjected Black players to a “daily tirade of racial abuse,” though they’ve responded to the
civil lawsuits by saying they “deny vicarious liability” in the
case, per Taylor.

Williams and Rix, who weren’t
criminally charged following an investigation into the allegations
after police said there was “insufficient evidence,” continue to
deny wrongdoing, according to The Athletic. While both former coaches
declined comment on the situation, Williams filed a response saying he used racial language, but did so without malicious intent.

One player, who’s now in his 40s,
alleged in court documents Rix punched him between the legs and he’s
since dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The trial is expected to include 62
witnesses, including several prominent members of the club and the
Premier League in the past, including former Liverpool goalkeeper David
James, a Black former England international who’s listed as a witness
to a racist incident involving Williams.

A player alleged he was walking past
Williams and James following a December 1995 game when Williams
grabbed him by the collar and called him a “fake c–n” and James
a “proper c–n,” per Taylor.

In August 2019, Chelsea released a
statement saying it apologized for the “terrible past
experiences of some of its former players” following an investigation into the matter and pledged
“abhorrent abuse like this can never happen again”:

“Although the club today is a very
different place from the club then, with new ownership, operational
structures and safeguarding procedures in place, we will not shy away
from responsibility for what happened in the past.

“The intention of the review was
to shine a bright light in the dark corners of the club’s history so
that we can learn lessons to help protect the players of the future.
We also have no desire to hide any non-recent abuse we uncover.”

The allegations surround time where the
club was owned by Ken Bates, who purchased the team in 1982 and sold
to current owner Roman Abramovich in 2003.

Lawyer Emma Ferguson, who represents
some of the former players who’ve filed lawsuits, told The Athletic
the players are “disappointed” Chelsea have “changed their
position” from that 2019 statement to fighting the allegations in
civil court.

“Chelsea’s hypocrisy in appearing to
support Black lives in public, whilst refusing to support Black
victims of racist abuse in seeking the justice they deserve, simply
aggravates our clients’ pain and suffering,” Ferguson said.

The March 2022 court case is scheduled
to last five weeks.

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