Pictured with Nigel Farage: ex-public schoolboy in Chelsea fans Paris metro racism storm
The family of the Chelsea fan at the centre of the Paris Metro race storm defended him today saying he was “lovely, gentle boy” – as the victim demanded his attackers be jailed.
Former public schoolboy Josh Parsons, 21, has been named on social media and by friends as being among a group of Chelsea fans on a train in Paris when a black man off was pushed off.
Moments later some of the group of fans were also filmed chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”
Today Mr Parsons’s aunt Louise told the Standard that the incident had “come out of the blue” and the finance firm worker was being supported by his family. It came as a picture emerged of him outside a London pub with UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
She said: “He is a lovely boy and has never been in any trouble. He is a lifelong Chelsea fan and that has never been a problem. I have seen the footage but have not yet spoken to him. “We do not know what to make of it but it is a shock to the family. He is a lovely gentle boy who would not hurt anyone.”
Josh Parsons, circled, seen on board the Metro in the footage of Chelsea fans
A Ukip spokesman said: “Neither Mr Parsons nor his brother are members of UKIP, and we have never heard of him.
“This photograph was taken outside a London pub. Mr Farage is photographed with and by dozens of people, both by supporters and opponents on a daily basis.
“UKIP and Mr Farage find the behaviour of the suspected Chelsea fans on the Paris Metro to be disgraceful, and shames both the country and Chelsea Football Club.
“We are delighted that the identities of these people are being revealed, and that they will face the full force of the law.”
The comments came as the Frenchman pushed off the Metro train by Chelsea fans called for the group to be “found, punished and locked up.”
The Paris-born office manager, identified only as 33-year-old Souleymane S, said at first he did not understand the supporters’ chants of “We’re racist and that’s the way we like it” as he does not speak English.
The father of three said : “I understand they were attacking me because of the colour of my ski
“I live with racism. I was not really surprised by what happened to me even if it was a first in the subway.”
Souleymane said he intends to visit a police station in the French capital today to make a formal criminal complaint about the incident.
The fans’ actions which came as they travelled to watch their team play the European Champions League game against Paris St Germain have caused worldwide outrage after video footage of the incident went viral.
The office manager, who would only reveal his first name and the first initial of his surname and who comes from a Mauritanian background, said: “I intend to talk to anti-racism organisations. These people, these English fans, must be found and punished … What happened should not go unpunished.”
Prosecutors have already launched a criminal enquiry for ‘voluntary racial violence on public transport’, which is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine equivalent to £33,000.
Scotland Yard detectives are also examining the video footage in an effort to identify the culprits, while Chelsea football club have vowed to support any criminal prosecutions.
Mr Parsons, of Dorking in Surrey, is the only Chelsea fan to have been identified publicly so far.
Parsons, a former pupil at the £30,000 a year Millfield public school, works as an assistant at the financial services firm, the Business and Commercial Finance Club in Mayfair.
The black man, seen to the left of the frame, is barred from boarding the train by a mob of Chelsea fans
There is no suggestion at present that he was involved in either the pushing or the chanting but he could be a vital witness in the inquiry.
Outside his office this morning, his boss and company founder Miranda Khadr, said: “He is very scared at the moment and he called me to say he is not coming in today.
“He is not that type of person at all (to have taken part in racist chants), he works with me and I’m not English.
“He is a 21-year-old little boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Souleymane, in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper, said: “I didn’t know that I was filmed. The fact that it is being talked about has given me the courage to go and make a complaint to the police.
“I am going to try and do it today, if I have time, because I also have to work. In any case, I intend to turn to anti-racist groups.
“These people, these English supporters ought to be found, punished and ought to be locked up. What happened should not go unpunished.’
Souleymane said he was on his way home when he tried to board the train at the Richelieu-Drouot Metro station, in central Paris, soon after 7pm on Tuesday evening.
He found it packed with Chelsea fans on their way to watch the Champions League game which ended in a 1-1 draw.
He said “I tried to force my way on, I kept trying to get back on. In the scramble, I lost my phone. They told me things in English but I did not really understand the meaning of their words.
“I understood that they were attacking me because of the colour of my skin.
“I stood in front of them for a long time. Someone came up to me afterwards and said I’d been brave to stand up to such people. “
He eventually walked away and waited for the next train adding : “I went home and didn’t mention what happened to anyone, not even my wife and children.
“What was I meant to say to my children? That Dad was pushed and shoved in the Metro because he’s black? That’s hopeless’. “
There has been widespread condemnation of the actions of the Chelsea fans.
Former England footballer Ian Wright said : “‘Chelsea what you gonna do? Your club has been linked to racism for so long! What have you done? Put a couple of signs up in your ground?”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: “Sickening, embarrassing, moronic, disgraceful.’