Chelsea Football Club has issued sanctions against six people regarding their behaviour during our match against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on 8 December 2018.
The Club delayed reaching its decision in these cases in order to ensure that it did not prejudice the related police investigation.
The Crown Prosecution Service has, however, recently announced that it has elected not to initiate any criminal prosecutions. This allowed the Club to conduct its own investigation, which included seeking representations from the individuals concerned, reviewing video evidence, interviewing potential witnesses and obtaining expert opinions from two lip reading professionals. All individuals sanctioned as a result of our investigation were then offered the right to appeal and, where applicable, those appeals have been heard.
The sanctions issued are summarised below:
· One individual has been permanently excluded from Stamford Bridge for the use of racially abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour. Prior to making its decision, the Club noted the decision of the CPS not to charge this individual with a criminal offence. While the Club respects the decision of the CPS, the question that it had to determine was not whether a criminal offence had been committed, but rather whether the individual acted in breach of the ticketing terms and conditions. In this regard, the Club operates to the civil standard of proof, which is entirely different to the criminal standard. In reaching its decision, the Club took into account the denial made by the individual as well as a range of other evidence, including video evidence and evidence from two lip reading experts - both of whom advised that the individual had used words that are racially abusive.
· Five individuals have been temporarily excluded from attending Stamford Bridge for periods of between one and two years for the use of abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour. Individuals receiving the shorter exclusion did so on the basis that they have provided undertakings about their future behaviour.
We understand that this incident has been the subject of discussion amongst supporters, and the Club appreciates that emotions can run high during matches. However, in this case the behaviour of all six individuals crossed the line of what is acceptable. Furthermore, in the case of the supporter who was found by the Club to have used racially abusive language, there is no place for this behaviour at Stamford Bridge and a permanent exclusion was the appropriate sanction. Given the particular circumstances of this case, the Club did not consider that attendance at an education course in return for a reduced sanction would have been appropriate.
Chelsea Football Club finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent and we will continue to operate a zero tolerance approach to any incidents of racism. We are proud to be a diverse, inclusive club where people from all cultures, communities and identities feel welcome. We are clear and consistent in our condemnation of discriminatory behaviour and language and all fans should remember that their words and actions can cause offence to those around them and to the wider community. We will continue to work with our supporters to rid the game of all forms of discrimination.