Racial abuse at Chelsea: More former youth players emerge as victims
By Enda Brady
Last Updated: 08/05/18 10:43pm
Three more former Chelsea youth footballers have come forward to claim they were subjected to racial abuse by their coach on a regular basis in the 1980s and 1990s.
A total of seven ex-players are now taking legal action against the west London club, with two former team-mates claiming they witnessed the abuse and could no longer stay silent about it.
The men allege that five-a-side training sessions on Fridays would regularly be split into "black versus white" matches by their coach, who left the club more than a decade ago after Roman Abramovich took control.
All of the players taking legal action against their old club have requested anonymity.
"Friday was always the easiest day of the week because we would have a match on a Saturday," one of the players told Sky News.
"We always played five-a-side on Fridays and we would be split into blacks versus whites.
"There were obviously different coloured bibs there, but that's what he would do."
Another player told how the team captain came to him after collecting all the votes for the annual players' player of the year award one day in the early 1980s.
"He told me I had won," recalled the former striker, who played in the Chelsea first team in a handful of friendlies.
"Then on the night of the awards another player received the award.
"I was pleased for him, he was a young player coming through the team and I said 'well done' but that was heartbreaking for me."
Another player added: "He had all the power and the control over your career. I was a child and he was an adult. The racial slurs started from the age of 13, almost from the day I met him."
Another player said: "The abuse was constant. He would say to me, 'What are you going to do if you don't make it as a footballer? Go out mugging little old ladies?'"
None of the players went on to have top-flight careers.
They are being supported by two former team-mates who came forward after seeing a recent report on Sky News.
"The confidence was being drained out of certain players there," former Chelsea youth goalkeeper Grant Lunn told Sky News.
"It could happen once in a day or it could happen 10 times in a day. It was done behind closed doors, at training, in the gym, in the changing room. But when we were playing at other clubs he was a different person and there was none of it."
Gary Baker played left back for the Chelsea youth team in the 1980s and says the men are telling the truth.
"I saw a report on Sky and I had to come forward," he told Sky News.
"Over the years I have often felt guilty about not speaking up at the time, but there was nobody to go to.
"It's not like nowadays at academies where there are welfare officers, liaison officers and physios. It was just him."
A spokesman for Chelsea FC described the men's claims as "abhorrent" when contacted by Sky News.
In a statement, the club said: "We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and they will be fully investigated.
"We are absolutely determined to do the right thing, to assist the authorities and any investigations they may carry out and to fully support those affected which would include counselling for any former player that may need it."
"The language and the terminology is dreadful," said solicitor Renu Daly, from the London law firm Hudgell, which is representing the men.
"It wouldn't have been acceptable in a classroom or any other sport at that time, so it shouldn't have been acceptable in football."