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Paris police to probe ‘racist’ Chelsea fans

UPDATED: French police have opened an investigation after fans of Chelsea football club were filmed repeatedly pushing a black man off a Paris Metro train, before chanting "We're racist and that's the way we like it".

Paris police to probe 'racist' Chelsea fans
Chelsea fans push a fellow passenger off the metro. Photo: Guardian (screenshot)
The incident was filmed at Richelieu – Drouot Metro station on Tuesday, before the English club's Champions League clash against PSG at the Parc des Princes stadium to the west of Paris.
 
In the video, which was sent to the Guardian newspaper, an unidentified black man tries to board the packed train only to be physically pushed away by the Chelsea supporters. Other passengers look on. 
 
The man repeatedly tries to squeeze into the carriage and they aggressively push him back. The film then cuts to the men chanting: "We're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it!"
 
 

After the video went viral across the web and caused outrage among viewers the French police announced on Wednesday they had opened a probe into "deliberate racial violence on public transport".
 
The probe will be handled by the specialist STADE team at Paris police which investigate incidents of hooliganism. 
 
"We will work with British police, these people must be known," a French police source told AFP.
 
London police confirmed that they would assist the French investigation.
 
"We will examine the footage with a view to seeing if we can apply for football banning orders, preventing people from travelling from future matches," said a New Scotland Yard statement.
 
For their part Chelsea have condemned the actions of the fans. 
 
"Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society. We will support any criminal action against those involved, and should evidence point to involvement of Chelsea season-ticket holders or members the club will take the strongest possible action against them, including banning orders."
 
The video was filmed by British expat Paul Nolan, who told The Guardian that he was "completely appalled" by what he saw, adding that he felt unsafe filming. 
 
"It was getting quite aggressive and I overhead one of the Chelsea fans say something about stabbing someone. I think he was referring to a Paris Saint-Germain supporter who was on the platform.”
 
When Chelsea played PSG in last year's competition around one hundred Chelsea fans were involved in running battles with PSG fans in the centre of Paris, in front of shocked locals.
 

Following the incident on the Paris Metro European football's governing body UEFA condemned the fans' behaviour, but said that because it had occurred outside the stadium, it was not within its jurisdiction to act upon it.

"UEFA condemns all forms of discrimination and we are appalled by the incident which took place in the Paris Metro on Tuesday," the organisation said in a statement.

"However, as it occurred away from the stadium, it is outside UEFA's remit to act. It is a matter for the local authorities to investigate further and UEFA supports any action that is taken."

Sepp Blatter, president of world governing body FIFA, also expressed disgust over what had happened.

"I also condemn the actions of a small group of Chelsea fans in Paris," he wrote on Twitter. "There is no place for racism in football!"

Chelsea fanzine editor David Johnstone expressed fears for the club's reputation in light of the incident.

"I think the majority of Chelsea supporters are disgusted by what's happened," he told BBC radio.

"The 2,000 who were in Paris today (Tuesday) support a Jewish-owned football team where the majority of players are black and foreign."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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COURT

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.

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