By Brian Bariyo Tumuramye
Three Chelsea fans face bans for racially abusing a fellow supporter at a Europa League game in April.
Jerome Bailey, 20, said he was subjected to slurs about his skin and hair during a tie at Slavia Prague.
He was also “disappointed” it took the club six months to contact him after providing names and seat numbers of the alleged perpetrators; Chelsea have suspended the fans and have written to Bailey apologising for the delay.
The supporters could be banned for life, although the lengths of their suspensions have yet to be determined.
Bailey, who initially felt like his case had been “swept under the carpet”, told BBC Sport: “It’s the result I wanted all along but it’s unfortunate and disappointing that it’s taken so long to get to this point, “Maybe Chelsea need to look at how efficient their procedures are in this area.”
Chelsea said it took time to identify the alleged abusers but accepted they could have made contact sooner, Bailey said he welcomed the suspensions and the fact the club had eventually taken action, “It’s good that zero tolerance is not an empty promise in this case,” he said.
But he said of the delay: “I just wanted to know that the team I follow cared a little. I didn’t feel like I should have been the one to approach the club – they should have been telling me what was happening.”
Chelsea had to respond to several racist incidents last season, including one that saw a Chelsea fan given a life ban for using “racially abusive language” towards Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling during a match at Stamford Bridge in December.
Five other Blues supporters have been temporarily suspended for using “abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour”.
The incident involving Bailey in Prague also coincided with Chelsea stopping three fans entering the Europa League tie after a video showed a group singing an abusive song about Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, who is also a practising Muslim.
After the group were seen to be chanting “Salah is a bomber”, Chelsea said they found “all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent” and would “take the strongest possible action” against anyone found guilty.
After an investigation, however, the club were unable to identify those singing the song or confirm whether they were Chelsea fans.
The club suspended three fans for passing on their tickets to other people.
At the time, Bailey said the abuse he received had he received had been very upsetting and was contacted in April by Chelsea’s security team after conducting several media interviews about his experience.
As a result, he chose not to attend Chelsea games this season, not because of any fears about a repeat occurrence, but because he “wanted something done” before going again, but without hearing from the club, he returned to games at the end of September.
“Chelsea had everything at their disposal [for the investigation],” he added. “It should have been simple to approach these guys and then move forward, “I just wanted to get some closure and now it feels like I have.”