Chelsea fans barred from Slavia Prague match after derogatory Salah chants
Chelsea stopped three supporters from entering Thursday's Europa League match at Slavia Prague after they were identified singing a derogatory chant about Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, the club has confirmed.
Video of the fans singing "Salah is a bomber" in a Prague bar on Thursday circulated widely on social media, attracting widespread condemnation and prompting anti-discrimination body Kick It Out to call for action.
Three of the six men in the video were identified by Chelsea's away security team and denied access to Eden Arena. The other three stayed away from the ground, Chelsea officials believe.
Club statement. https://t.co/tMqiV6H53Z— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 11, 2019
In a statement issued shortly after kick-off, the club pledged to take the "strongest possible action" against any season ticket holders found to have misbehaved.
"Chelsea FC finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent and where there is clear evidence of Chelsea season ticket holders or members involved in such behaviour, we will take the strongest possible action against them," the statement read.
"Such individuals are an embarrassment to the vast majority of Chelsea supporters who won't tolerate them in their club."
Sources told ESPN FC that the club are working to identify three more fans from the video who were believed not to have attended the match as Chelsea want to ban any supporters found guilty of discriminatory behaviour for life.
When asked about the video after the match -- a 1-0 Chelsea victory -- Blues manager Maurizio Sarri declined to comment.
"I don't want to talk about this because I didn't see the video, so I don't want to talk about something I don't know about the case. I want to speak about football," he said.
Chelsea's season has been marred by a series of racist incidents. UEFA opened an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitic chanting by Blues supporters during a Europa League group stage match against Vidi in Budapest in December, though no disciplinary action was ultimately taken.
This episode is particularly damaging with Chelsea set to face Liverpool and Salah -- who spent two years on the books at Stamford Bridge -- in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.
Speaking at news conference on Friday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the abuse of Salah was "disgusting" and called on those responsible for the racist chanting to be banned from football for life.
"It's disgusting," Klopp said. "It's another example of something which absolutely should not happen . We should not see it as a Chelsea thing or a Liverpool thing, so it's another sign for something that's going wrong out there.
"If you do something like that you should not be allowed into a football stadium again, in my point of view in your life because for me it is a complete misunderstanding of how life should be.
"As a part of the football community I can say these people should not be involved because football is the best example of how different people, different races can work together brilliantly. Go in every dressing room in the world of football and you find them everyone sitting together and nobody cares about where you are coming from, who your parents were, it's never an issue
"Football has a strong voice and we have to use that strong voice and show how we think that these things are not allowed to happen again."
Liverpool also issued a statement in response to the video on Thursday night.
"The video circulating online, showing vile discriminatory chants being aimed at one of our players, is dangerous and disturbing," the statement said.
"Already this season, we have seen repulsive discriminatory abuse inside stadiums in England, Europe and across the world; abuse that was captured on devices and put into the public domain. We have also witnessed numerous hateful attacks on social media.
"This behaviour needs to be called out for what it is -- unadulterated bigotry.
"Liverpool Football Club believes it is the responsibility of those in positions of authority, following proper process, to act urgently to identify and then punish anyone committing a hate crime.
"There is no place for this behaviour in football, there is no place for it in society. A crime of this nature has more victims than any individual it is aimed at and, as such, collective and decisive action is needed to address it.
"As pertains to this latest incident, the club is working with Merseyside Police to ascertain the facts around this footage with the aim of identifying individuals featuring in it.
"In addition, we are working directly with Chelsea Football Club on the matter. We thank them for their condemnation and a commitment to act urgently to identify any individuals responsible."