Chelsea’s first black player Paul Canoville says he is amazed that racism is still an issue within football and society.
Canoville, who played for the Blues for five years from 1981 when racism was all-too common, said he is “disgusted” by footage which seemingly shows Blues supporters chanting racist slogans on a Metro train in Paris before the Champions League game against Paris St-Germain on Tuesday.
“It’s all wrong. It’s disgusting,” said Canoville, who was regularly subjected to terrible abuse in the early 1980s.
“I saw it and thought ‘wow’. If that’s what’s happened where did that come from and how do people think like that? I am amazed we are still talking about this sort of thing.”
Canoville now runs his own businesses as well as working for Chelsea visiting schools and using his experiences – including the racism he suffered – to help educate young people.
He is also involved with Chelsea – the team he still supports – on the hospitality side, and believes the club’s response has been strong.
A Chelsea statement said: “Such behaviour is abhorrent and has no place in football or society.
“We will support any criminal action against those involved in such behaviour, and should evidence point to the involvement of Chelsea season ticket holders or members the club will take the strongest possible action against them, including banning.”
But Canoville was saddened by the fact the attention had been shifted away from the on-pitch achievements so far this season.
“It’s such a shame,” Canoville added. “Chelsea are top of the league, seven points clear, in the League Cup final against Tottenham, doing well in Europe and playing so well, but this is what people are having to talk about.
“This was from a different time. It makes you so angry.”
Paul Canoville works part-time for Chelsea by visiting schools through the Educate Through Football (ETF) programme.
Canoville also runs his own businesses – the Motivation To Change Foundation and the recently launched Motivation4Change.