As revealed by The Athletic today, Chelsea are being taken to High Court in a civil case brought by four former youth team players, who claim that the racial abuse that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s has left them with “long-term psychological damage, including depression, anger and relationship issues”. Ten more are preparing similar cases apparently.
The case is currently set for a three-day public trial in March 2022, though as with most high profile cases such as this one, it’s much more likely that a private settlement will be reached before then. The report does not specify what sort of damages the claimants are looking for.
While Chelsea are named as the defendants, it’s the club’s insurers’ lawyers who are actually handling the case, which is fairly standard practice, though it does paint a picture of non-caring from the club. Chelsea had previously offered “full apologies” (though not individual apologies) — for both the historical racial abuse and the child abuse that was going on at the same time — after the investigation commissioned by the club basically confirmed all allegations of abuse and showed the club turning a blind eye, or even enabling the abusers at the time. Results of that (non-criminal) investigation were passed on to the relevant authorities last summer.
As also revealed by The Athletic, Chelsea have already settled with some of the victims of the child abuse, and are paying “five-figure” damages to an unknown number of former youth players. So far, no such agreements or settlements have been made around the racial abuse claims with Chelsea denying liability, though a lawsuit such as this one will certainly motivate things.
Chelsea have been trying to do the right thing in recent years after these and other similar shameful incidents in the club’s history, so let’s do the right thing here as well please. We cannot erase our history, nor should we. We mustn’t. But we can certainly learn from it and do (much) better.