Three former youth-team footballers at Chelsea have launched legal claims against the club after allegations that black players were subjected to horrific racism by their coaches, including physical attacks and one instance when Graham Rix allegedly threw a cup of hot coffee in the face of one of the young prospects.
Rix, then the youth-team coach, is named along with Gwyn Williams, a prominent figure at Stamford Bridge for more than 25 years, in a case that contains such serious allegations Chelsea felt compelled to notify the Football Association and the police were brought in. The police decided after a seven-month investigation there was insufficient evidence to take any action but Chelsea have launched their own inquiry and the FA’s safeguarding team have so far interviewed two of the players. Chelsea have also offered in-house counselling to at least one of the players.
Rix and Williams declined to comment to the Guardian but later issued a statement through their solicitor denying the allegations. Chelsea have released a statement about a civil claim that was instigated in a letter to the club last February and, until now, has never been reported. “We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously,” Chelsea’s statement said. “We are absolutely determined to do the right thing, to fully support those affected, assist the authorities and support their investigations.”
Rix and Williams were key members of the backroom staff at a time when Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli put in place a pre-Abramovich transformation to re-establish Chelsea as one of the more glamorous clubs in the country during the 1990s. Behind the scenes, however, evidence submitted to the FA and seen by the Guardian describes it as a “feral environment” for some of the black players in the youth team, one allegation being that they were treated “like a race of fucking dogs”.
In one incident, Chelsea played a youth-team fixture in Spain and Rix is said to have humiliated one of the black outfield players by substituting him with the reserve goalkeeper. As the player was showering afterwards, it is alleged Rix shouted that “if his heart was as big as his cock, he would be a great player that ran more”. According to the evidence seen by Chelsea and the FA, Rix followed it up by saying the player should have been “the only person in the whole stadium to be able to enjoy the 40-degree heat” on the basis that “blacks were always winning the long-distance Olympic events in the heat, if they weren’t chucking spears”.
Other allegations include that Rix or Williams called him a “darkie”, a “nignog”, a “black bastard”, a “wog”, “midnight”, “jigaboo” and various other insults. The player also alleges he was told by Williams to “fuck off back to Africa” and “sell drugs or rob old grannies”. Williams is not accused of any physical assaults but would allegedly punish the player by telling him to “go and clean my office, Richard Pryor – shine my shoes like a good wog” or “pick up your lip, it’s dragging on the floor”.