Chelsea were today forced to condemn more allegations of racism by their own fans following claims one of them called striker Daniel Sturridge a “monkey”.
The alleged incident occurred during the Blues’ 1-1 Champions League draw at Genk two weeks ago, the same game in which some of their travelling support abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
The club immediately launched an inquiry in a bid to identify those heard to chant, “Anton Ferdinand, you know what you are”, in apparent support for Chelsea captain John Terry, who is being investigated by police and the Football Association over claims he used a racial slur against Ferdinand.
The Blues have now widened their probe following a complaint from a Chelsea executive club member against a fellow supporter, who was sat alongside the likes of British Airways chairman Martin Broughton and computer multi-millionaire Peter Harrison in the Cristal Arena’s exclusive €100-a-seat section.
The unnamed fan – reportedly a well-dressed, middle-aged man – allegedly shouted, “They are bringing on the monkeys”, when 22-year-old Sturridge came off the bench and is also alleged to have joined in the chanting about Ferdinand.
A fellow fan sat nearby was apparently so appalled, he sent an e-mail complaining to Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay.
The club said in a statement: “We are investigating several complaints as part of our ongoing investigation into offensive behaviour at the game in Genk.
“We take all complaints of this nature extremely seriously and are working with supporters and police to identify those that took part.
“It can sometimes prove difficult to identify offenders at European away games as there are varying degrees of CCTV and TV footage available to us.
“However, we will continue to vigorously pursue any evidence of individuals or groups taking part in discriminatory behaviour and take the strongest action against them.
“Chelsea FC believes such activity shames the club and the game of football and we are fully committed to eradicating such offensive behaviour from the sport.”
Sturridge is expected to make his England debut in tonight’s friendly against Sweden, which will also see the return as captain of Terry, who has categorically denied racially abusing Ferdinand.