Letchworth Chelsea fan ‘is not a racist’

A FORMER classmate of a Chelsea fan who has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence has said the man has “never been a racist”.

A 28-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested by the Met Police on Monday after a picture was taken appearing to show a Chelsea fan make a monkey gesture in the direction of black Manchester United footballer Danny Welbeck.

The incident occurred during last Wednesday’s Capital One Cup tie at Stamford Bridge in London and Chelsea FC said yesterday (Wednesday) that the arrested fan has been banned from visiting the ground, pending the conclusion of the police inquiry.

The man attended a west London police station by appointment and was bailed to return to the station on November 29.

Letchworth GC resident Anmol Paul grew up with the 28-year-old man and was his classmate at Pixmore Junior School in the town.

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He said: “He’s always been a bit of a class clown but I’ve never had him down as a racist person. He’s never been a racist.

“It’s just silly on his part and from the sounds of it he knows it and apologised for it as well. I don’t get what part of him thought it was acceptable to behave like that.

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“For me we grew up having banter and took the mick out of each other but to do it to a complete stranger in a crowd of almost 50,000 people is a bit embarrassing.”

Bal Singh said the 28-year-old man had been involved in a previous pilot project run by the Khalsa Football Academy, which Mr Singh set up in Letchworth GC in 1988 in a bid to challenge stereotypes and racist behaviour through football.

He said: “What we’ve done in the past is work with race crime offenders who have come to us and I see this as a way of going forward in a case like this.

“I believe that football, as the world’s most popular game, can help to bring together people from different backgrounds to play football and break barriers created by ignorance or prejudice.”

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