Wednesday the 16th of June

...to the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Chaplain for Sport demands ban on racism

The Chaplain for Sport has insisted that there is no place for racism in sport and demanded that those who exhibit such behaviour should be banned from sporting events.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann made his comments following reports that four Chelsea fans had been found guilty of racist violence in Paris, almost two years after they allegedly blocked a black man from boarding a Paris metro train.

“There should be no room for racists in football – or any other sport,” Mgr Felzmann told The Universe.

“Bullies are controlled most effectively by fear; including fear of losing what perhaps they value most: watching their team play.”

He added: “Banning racists from attending fixtures for a short time – a period which could be increased for every subsequent racially abusive behaviour – might help them realise their way of life is unacceptable.

“What they did not learn at home or school, they might learn through sport – and their exclusion from all fixtures until their tariff has been served.”

The four Chelsea supporters were given suspended prison sentences ranging from six months to a year. They must also pay 10,000 euros (£8,500) in damages to the victim.

The incident happened in February 2015 before a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain.

Videos showed Souleymane Sylla being pushed off the train by Chelsea supporters, who were singing: “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”

Mr Sylla said he was shocked at the experience.

“That’s a thing we used to see in films actually. I used to hear the story of Rosa Parks,” he said referring to the American civil rights pioneer arrested in 1955 for refusing to give her bus seat to a white passenger.

“I didn’t believe it would happen to me,” he told FranceInfo radio.

Two French anti-racist associations, SOS Racisme and LICRA, backed Mr Sylla’s legal action.

According to French prosecutors, the defendants were Richard Barklie, Joshua Parsons, William Simpson and James Fairbairn.

Several of the fans involved in the case were given stadium bans in Britain in July 2015.

Mgr Felzmann, who is also the CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport denounced racist behaviour and the use of sport as a tool to demonstrate it.

“Jesus Christ taught us that we are all – no matter what our race or gender or age – children of the same Father and thus we may live in peace throughout the whole of our global city,” he said.

“At its best, sport nurtures this family-feeling. At its worst it becomes a tool – a weapon for a fight,” he added, noting the infamous history of certain football clubs plagued by fan misconduct.

Today’s Premier League fixtures:

Everton v Manchester City – 1:30pm
Manchester United v Liverpool – 4:00pm

Picture: A supporter holds up an anti racism banner during a Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, on Saturday 21st February 2015. (Jon Super/PA).