Chelsea is one of the most recognized names in team sports across the entire globe. It is also being revealed to have a very racist history as well.
Grant Lunn and Gary Baker, both of whom played in Chelsea’s youth league in the early ’80s, have come forward to speak about Gwyn Williams after Chelsea’s former youth coach released a letter to the Guardian denying allegations of racial abuse that had been levied earlier this year.
Four players have submitted legal claims and a number of others have contacted legal counsel, with at least three more cases pending. All the claims relate to Williams, but Graham Rix, a former England international, is also implicated in relation to his coaching period with Chelseas youth program in the 1990’s.
What makes the involvement of Lunn and Baker so revelatory is that they are white, were on the team, and have corroborated the story of their former teammates of color.
“Williams and Rix made it clear to lots of black players they didnt stand a chance,” said Baker.
Lunn reportedly told the Guardian that racism was “the norm”.
This emerges as evidence of “whites-against-blacks” training matches and other abuses have recently come to light.
One allegation is that Rix threw a cup of hot coffee in the face of one young black player, who claims his confidence was shattered by the racial abuse he encountered from his coaches. Rix and Williams, who use the same lawyer, have repeatedly denied all the allegations.
Lunn and Baker met four of the players, two of their former teammates, who claim they were racially abused by Williams, including one who says he was so traumatized by his experiences as a teenager at Chelsea from 1979-85 that he cannot even watch them play on television because of the flashbacks he suffers.
Although basketball is slowly closing in on it, the sport of soccer remains the most popular spectator sport in the world, with countries from every populated continent having competed in the World Cup soccer tournament since its inception in 1930.
Lunn, a former goalkeeper, spent four years at Chelsea before being released at the age of 18 and moving into non-league soccer.
“As a group of kids, we probably became used to hearing racist terms and insults when we were at the club, said Lunn. One week there would be only one or two, another day it may happen 10 times. It was the norm.
I can remember how it affected some of the lads. One of my team-mates was repeatedly called racist names by Williams and when we were alone together he would confide in me and say how he hated the way he was being treated, the names he was called and the way he was singled out time and again because of his color.
It’s soccer to some and ftbol to others, yet no matter how it’s defined, it’s a sport with some of the most rabid, passionate fans in the world. But as the biggest global sport, soccer can’t seem to successfully unite cultures, ethnicities or skin colors as racism continues to erupt through the connectivity that sports usually promotes.
Those boys had no support or no way of challenging it. There was nobody else to go to. They had to deal with it and accept it. There was no way anybody else would challenge it on their behalf as their card would have been marked. It was just the way it was. It wasnt right, and that is clear now. We probably didnt realize back then how wrong it was.
Its why I have come forward to support these players now. It has taken them so long to speak out because of the impact it has had on their lives. Some of these lads were excellent players who I think could have made it. They didnt get support back then, but it is only right they have it now.
Baker, who was on Chelsea from 1981-86, said: When I read the articles in March I was surprised how it all came flooding back and how it made me feel. It was the outright denial from Williams that made me want to come forward. I have no ax to grind with him personally, as I was never targeted in any way by him, but I was annoyed and angered to read his denial.”