Rix the sub­ject of racism and bul­ly­ing claims

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - Daniel Tay­lor For­mer youth team coach al­leged to have hor­rif­i­cally abused youth team play­ers

This ar­ti­cle con­tains con­tent some con­tent read­ers may find of­fen­sive 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 own coaches, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal at­tacks and one in­stance when Gra­ham Rix al­legedly threw a cup of hot cof­fee in the face of one young player.

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 has so far in­ter­viewed two of the play­ers. Chelsea have also of­fered in-house coun­selling to at least one of the play­ers.

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 Eng­land in the 1990s.

But 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 f**king 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 added 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 in­sults

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 “f**k off back to Africa” and “sell drugs or rob old grannies”. Wil­liams 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”.

When the player left Chelsea for an­other team his new man­ager has said he won­dered why a tal­ented young foot­baller from one of Eng­land’s top clubs ap­peared to have been “stripped of his self-con­fi­dence”. That man­ager has sub­mit­ted a writ­ten re­port that now forms part of the le­gal claim and says the player was “a good pro­fes­sional who al­ways had a beam­ing smile but I al­ways felt be­hind that smile was a per­son who clearly had his con­fi­dence knocked out of him at Chelsea. Who­ever was re­spon­si­ble for that, I don’t know. He never gave me a prob­lem. He was al­ways on time and al­ways gave his all.”

Now in his late-30s, the player is hop­ing others will come for­ward, de­scrib­ing him­self as hav­ing “the weight of the world on my shoul­ders at 16” and say­ing the dis­tress­ing ef­fects have con­tin­ued to af­fect him in his adult life. Ev­ery day, he says, he would walk to Chelsea’s train­ing ground “think­ing: ‘Oh my God, I can’t wait for this day to be over’ . . . I was so low. Even drag­ging this up now, it re­ally af­fects me”.

Wil­liams, 68, joined Chelsea in 1979 and was so close to Ken Bates that he later fol­lowed him to Leeds United as tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor. His pe­riod at Chelsea also in­cluded a spell as as­sis­tant man­ager to Clau­dio Ranieri and he was in­volved in the scout­ing depart­ment for José Mour­inho be­fore leav­ing the club in 2006.

Wil­liams, who is cred­ited with dis­cov­er­ing John Terry, has been ac­cused in the past of mak­ing ho­mo­pho­bic com­ments to Graeme Le Saux, the for­mer Chelsea de­fender. “He would wan­der up to me be­fore train­ing and say: ‘Come on, poof, get your boots on,’” Le Saux wrote in his 2007 autobiography. Wil­liams was dis­missed by Leeds for gross mis­con­duct in 2013 af­ter email­ing porno­graphic im­ages of women to a num­ber of col­leagues, in­clud­ing a fe­male re­cep­tion­ist.

Rix, 60, also has a che­quered past af­ter ad­mit­ting, in March 1999, two charges of un­law­ful sex with a 15-year-old girl and in­de­cent as­sault and be­ing sen­tenced to 12 months in prison – serv­ing six of them – as well as be­ing put on the sex of­fend­ers’ reg­is­ter for 10 years.

He was re­in­stated by Chelsea im­me­di­ately af­ter his re­lease from Wandsworth prison and was the first-team coach when Chelsea won the FA Cup in 2000.

Rix had pre­vi­ously been the as­sis­tant man­ager to Gul­lit and had a brief spell as care­taker man­ager af­ter Vialli’s de­par­ture. Af­ter that, he man­aged Portsmouth, Ox­ford United and Hearts, as well as coach­ing at the Glenn Hod­dle Academy in Spain and hav­ing a brief spell as man­ager of a club in Trinidad. His last man­age­rial job in Eng­land was at AFC Portch­ester of the Wes­sex League Pre­mier Di­vi­sion but he left the club last Au­gust.

The player’s al­le­ga­tions are also that Wil­liams tar­geted him by “flick­ing my scro­tum, flick­ing my pe­nis, pat­ting my bum” when he was still a mi­nor. It was deemed se­ri­ous enough to form part of the ques­tion­ing when David Greg­son, the FA’s safe­guard­ing team leader, and Ste­fa­nia Sacco, the safe­guard­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion man­ager, in­ter­viewed the player at Wem­b­ley on Oc­to­ber 23rd.

The player says he tried to ring Gra­ham Kelly, FA chief ex­ec­u­tive, years later to talk to him about what had al­legedly hap­pened but says he was not even put through. “The FA have failed me in the way of not pro­tect­ing me as a mi­nor “I was failed in terms of there not be­ing enough pa­ram­e­ters for pro­tec­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to that player’s ac­count, seen by the Guardian, the racist abuse at Chelsea started af­ter join­ing the club on school­boy terms. “Even at 12, 13, the ver­nac­u­lar he [Wil­liams] was us­ing was: ‘You lit­tle black bas­tard, you coon, you lit­tle wog, how are you do­ing?’ I was a mi­nor, I’d never heard those words be­ing said to some­one [in foot­ball] . He ad­dressed me like that ev­ery time he saw me. He’d walk in [the dress­ing room] and go: ‘Hey, look at the f**king black­ies here then. F**king rub­ber lips. Look at their f**king big noses. You black bas­tard. Been f**king rob­bing cars, have you?’ Let me tell you some­thing – that is the most de­mor­al­is­ing feel­ing you could ever have.”

Pow­er­ful guy

“I knew it was un­ac­cept­able but I was a mi­nor. When you’re in that po­si­tion, where this guy is a pow­er­ful guy at the club … I didn’t know how to han­dle it. I thought it would stop. I just didn’t know how to han­dle it and it was con­stant … the racial slurs of ‘coon’, ‘wog’, ‘mon­key’ … ‘smok­ing wacky-backy’, which is mar­i­juana, or ‘black bas­tard’, ‘f**king black bas­tard’, ‘mango-muncher’, ‘nig­ger’.

“Gwyn Wil­liams has been at the club since 1979. He was pow­er­ful. He was Ken Bates’s mate. The guy [Wil­liams] is a walk­ing piece of dirt but he had power. It was said he had the big­gest black book in Lon­don – he knew ev­ery­one. That guy was the gov­er­nor. No mat­ter what role he had, that man had power.”

When the player, then 15, was of­fered YTS terms Rix was youth team man­ager, with Wil­liams in the role of youth de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. Man­ager Hod­dle, , left Chelsea to take the Eng­land job and Gul­lit took over. . “The amount of times I wanted to say some­thing to Ruud Gul­lit,” the player says in his FA in­ter­view. “But Ruud Gul­lit didn’t even know what was go­ing on. They didn’t do these things in front of Ruud.”

The player goes on to state in the same in­ter­view that when he asked Rix to stop “dig­ging me out” he was struck on the back of the head and, later in a train­ing ses­sion, kicked twice while sit­ting on the floor. Rix, he says, was singing the Billy Ocean song When The Go­ing Gets Tough as the al­leged as­sault took place.

In an­other train­ing game, Rix joined in and, ac­cord­ing to the player, hurled the ball into his face from a throw-in, leav­ing him on the floor with a bleed­ing nose. The same player says he de­cided to stand up to Rix when the coach asked him whether he had “tried to fuck any of our white girls” at the week­end. In the en­su­ing ar­gu­ment, Rix al­legedly threw a cup of cof­fee in his face.

“It burned my face,” the player says. “I went to grab him. I wanted to kill this guy. Then I had to think … black boy, six foot what­ever, hits a white coach – he’s out of foot­ball. So I had to hold my­self in and I went in to put wa­ter on my face be­cause it was burn­ing.”

In a fol­low-up le­gal let­ter to Chelsea, an­other al­leged in­ci­dent refers to the teenager ask­ing Rix to stop mak­ing his sis­ter feel­ing un­com­fort­able by mak­ing what were sug­ges­tive re­marks. Rix al­legedly went red with anger and replied: “I will do what­ever I want and if I fancy a bit of black I guar­an­tee her black arse will get it,” and then punched him in the scro­tum. “Our client fell to the floor in ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain and Rix walked off laugh­ing while look­ing over his shoul­der.” – Guardian Last night Rix and Wil­liams is­sued a state­ment through their so­lic­i­tors and de­nied “all and any al­le­ga­tions of racial or other abuse”.

Other al­le­ga­tions in­clude that Rix or Wil­liams called him a “darkie”, a “nignog”, a “black bas­tard”, a “wog”, “mid­night”, “ji­ga­boo”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IM­AGES

Chelsea and the English Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion are in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions against Gra­ham Rix (above) and Gwyn Wil­liams dat­ing from 1990s.

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