The commuter racially abused and blocked by Chelsea supporters from boarding a Paris Metro train has accepted an invitation from Paris Saint-Germain to watch the London club’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Parc des Princes next week.
Souleymane Sylla, a French-Mauritian, was repeatedly pushed backwards off a carriage amid chants of “we’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it” asChelsea supporters travelled to their club’s match with PSG last February.
Chelsea condemned the incident and five men were given football banning orders of up to five years last July. All received lifetime bans from the club.
Sylla was so traumatised he had to take six months off work and he used the Metro for the first time since the incident last Friday. Hedeclined an invitation from Chelsea to attend the return leg in London in March 2015, as the ordeal was too raw. The club extended their offer as an open invitation, which remains in place. But he plans to go to this season’s last-16 first leg on 16 February, one day short of the anniversary of the incident.
“Paris St Germain invited my client to be there and I think he will be there, with me,” said Sylla’s lawyer, Jim Michel-Gabriel. “He has decided to go to the match as life must carry on.”
Sylla’s life was impacted greatly by the incident, which occurred as he was returning home from work and videoed on a mobile phone by a bystander, with the published footage shocking viewers. Michel-Gabriel added: “He feels OK. He goes to the doctor once a week because he thinks about what happened one year ago.
“It was impossible for him to take the Metro. It was very hard for him. He feels better and he started [using the Metro] last Friday.”
Legal proceedings relating to the case are ongoing in France, but Sylla wishes for a return to some normality.
This is the third year in a row Chelsea and PSG have been drawn together in theChampions League. Chelsea won in 2014 on away goals, were defeated in 2015 on away goals and host the second leg at Stamford Bridge on 9 March.