The second leg of the Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea was a hot ticket ever since December’s round of 16 draw in Nyon. The general admission price, for adults, to Stamford Bridge’s Wednesday night showdown ranged from $69 to $112. That’s if you could get your hands on a ticket. Through other “less official” channels, the price of attendance increased significantly. But imagine if someone offered you an official ticket and a prime seat in a director’s box. That offering wasn’t enough to entice one man to Stamford Bridge — not even for free.
After the tie’s first leg in Paris, a man since identified as Souleymane S. was shoved unceremoniously out of a Paris Métro car by a group of Chelsea fans serenading him with chants of “We’re racist! We’re racist! And that’s the way we like it, we like it!” The chants were an homage to Chelsea captain John Terry, who was banned for four games and fined £220,000 for calling Anton Ferdinand “a f***ing black c**t” during a 2011 encounter between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers.
Obviously, Chelsea expressed its disgust at the incident and promised to find and punish those responsible. Since then, the club has repeatedly apologized and has banned several fans from the stadium. The club also reached out to Souleymane to apologize and offered to host him in a Stamford Bridge directors’ box during Wednesday’s second leg. Souleymane said no to the invite, because watching a live Chelsea game wasn’t exactly the kind of therapeutic relief he was after.
Souleymane has since re-confirmed his lack of interest in taking up Chelsea on their offer. Speaking to RFF, he said, “I will not go. You can’t buy me with a piece of paper. I’m not a child. It’s like someone pushing you and then telling you to watch cartoons to forget.”
But it seems that Chelsea won’t learn. Chelsea’s response, once again, was all about Chelsea. A team spokesperson told Sky Sports News, “We appreciate he doesn’t want to come to this particular game, however, our offer remains open and we hope he’ll take us up on it so he can meet real Chelsea fans and experience the true spirit of the club.”
The club’s message remains clear: attending a Chelsea game and meeting “real Chelsea fans” is the way to makes sure Souleymane heals from his ordeal. In time, token gestures heal all wounds.
(Now that we know the results of this clash, Souleymane’s stance looks even more principled. After all, it might’ve been a hell of a lot of fun just to sit in that box, laughing manically.)