Chelsea settle racism case with former players
Four former Chelsea youth team players will each receive six-figure payouts after the reigning European champions opted to settle a case brought against the club which alleged that they had been subjected to racist abuse by coaches formerly employed by the London side.
The players claimed that they were targeted between the ages of 14 and 18 by former youth coach Graham Rix and Gwyn Williams, who was in charge of youth development, more than two decades ago, and that they were hit with “a barrage of disgracefully offensive racist abuse.”
Legal counsel for the four men claimed that Chelsea were “vicariously liable” for the allegations. The case seemed likely to go to trial but the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday was told in a Monday hearing that an out-of-court settlement had been reached by the parties in question.
“I'm pleased to let you know that a successful settlement agreement has been achieved between the parties,” said lawyer David McClenaghan, who was representing the four ex-players.
Court documents also detailed that one of the four men claimed that he was confronted with “repeated and persistent bullying and harassment” which included “deliberately offensive racist insults”.
He also alleged physical abuse and that hot coffee had been poured over him - incidents he said caused him “great distress and upset”.
Rix is said to have denied all the allegations against him while Williams accepted that he used racial language but said in evidence that it wasn't intended to be malicious. He denies claims that he engaged in physical abuse.
Chelsea, meanwhile, pledged support to the ex-players.
“The club is pleased that we have been able to conclude a settlement of these claims without any further litigation,”they said in a statement.
“We will continue to offer support to the former players concerned through our dedicated Player Support Service.”
The lawyers representing the players, meanwhile, stated that the settlement could be a watershed moment for former players who were involved in patterns of historical abuse.
“This is a historic moment for our incredibly brave clients, who have spoken out about their horrendous experiences that they suffered over many years at Chelsea Football Club as young boys at the hands of their football coaches,” McClenaghan, along with Rebecca Sherriff, of the law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp said in a statement.
“This settlement will hopefully go some way in repairing the harm and ongoing trauma caused to our clients, who were just children when the abuse was inflicted on them by those in positions of trust.
“Through our clients' courage, we believe that this will prompt other victims of racial abuse to come forward and our clients hope that this case will prevent others from enduring what they had to.”