As was said on RoM, there was little doubt that Sam Bethell, the Chelsea groundsman who fought with Patrice Evra following our defeat at Stamford Bridge last season, had been guilty of a racist attack.
Whilst Chelsea pleaded innocence, not much was made of the fact by claiming Bethell had done no wrong, the blues were therefore saying Gary Neville, Mike Phelan, Carlos Tevez and Gerard Pique were all lying. This is a pretty shoddy thing to do. Lying to protect a team mate from trouble is one thing, but to knowingly falsely accuse someone of racism would be bang out of line. By defending Bethell, that is exactly what Chelsea were suggesting.
At the time, I raised the point that when Chelsea said there was “no foundation” to our claims of racist abuse, they were massively insulting our players and staff. They were backing the wrong horse though and now will have to pay the price. The consequences that should come with publicly backing a racist over well respected members of the United team should be far further reaching than just the punishment the FA have dished out.
They have been charged with breaching FA Rules in relation to the conduct of their groundsman. Originally, the FA charged Bethell himself but the charges were dismissed as it was ruled at a preliminary hearing that the association did not have jurisdiction over him due to Chelsea’s failure to inform him that he was liable. As a result, Chelsea have now been charged for failing to notify Bethell that he was subject to The FA rules and regulations in his contract.
“Firstly, the club has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E.20(a) for failing to ensure that Bethell conducted himself in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from any one or a combination of racist and/or abusive and/or provocative conduct and/or language,” read a statement from the FA. “The charge arises out of a disciplinary case against Sam Bethell himself, who was charged with improper conduct in relation to an altercation with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra at Stamford Bridge on 26 April. He was also charged with using abusive language aggravated by reference to nationality/race.”
Result! It was painfully obvious that Bethell had been racist towards Evra, following ours player’s reaction and all the statements in support from our end, yet still Chelsea were hell-bent on defending their employee. To offer so much support to a man now exposed as a racist does nothing for Chelsea’s image, which doesn’t exactly have a blemish free record where racism is involved!
The important point to note here though is that this isn’t United vs Chelsea. Had it been United players and Chelsea players battling it out, with supposed racism comments being flung between them (like JT vs Tevez), then I could understand why the club and their fans would be determined to clear their name. However, I cannot understand for the life of me whilst they are so keen to defend a groundsman ahead of the likes of our team captain, Gary Neville, our assistant manager, Mike Phelan, as well as Carlos Tevez and Gerard Pique. I cannot understand why they would rather believe that all those United representatives have lied, then accept the probability of a racist amongst on the pay roll.
Evra will have his personal hearing on October 2nd and I am happy for him to be punished in any reasonable way that the FA see fit. He was still wrong for reacting to that racist prick and that will come at a cost. But at least he can take that punishment knowing that he’s got the full support of fans, as well as any decent people anywhere, for doing his bit to kick, or punch, racism out of football!