Chelsea have been rocked by legal claims made by three former youth players relating to alleged racist abuse by the club’s coaches.
Graham Rix, who spent six months in prison for sexual offences in 1999, and Gwyn Williams are accused of horrific abuse of black players that included physical attacks. Rix, the then youth-team coach, even allegedly threw hot coffee in one player’s face.
The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor reports that after a seven-month investigation, the police decided there was not enough evidence to take action. But an internal inquiry has been launched by Chelsea, while two of the players have been interviewed by the FA. The club have also offered at least one of the players counselling.
Rix pictured watching Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2017
Former youth team coach Rix (R) allegedly threw cup of hot coffee in the face of one prospect
Williams was a high-level figure at the London club for more than a quarter of a century. He was close with Ken Bates and worked as an assistant to Claudio Ranieri and a scout for Jose Mourinho.
But the allegations made against him and Rix were so serious that the authorities were notified.
Rix and Williams have denied ‘all and any allegations of racial or other abuse’ in a statement via their lawyer Eddie Johns, who wrote: ‘Our clients deny all and any allegations of racial or other abuse.
‘These allegations were the subject of a thorough investigation by specialist officers of the Metropolitan Police Service. The MPS did not consider there was sufficient evidence even to report it to the Crown Prosecution Service. Our clients cooperated with that investigation.
‘The allegations in the Guardian newspaper are contained, as we understand it, within correspondence sent to Chelsea Football Club. That correspondence has not been seen by our clients or by us.
‘No correspondence has been sent to our clients or us by these individuals or those representing them. We will of course deal with any allegations if made directly to our clients. Our clients are cooperating fully with the FA in this matter.’
Chelsea, meanwhile, have said: ‘We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously… we are absolutely determined to do the right thing, to fully support those affected, assist the authorities and support their investigations.’
Both coaches worked in Chelsea’s backroom staff during the tenures of Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli at Stamford Bridge. None of the managers is accused of knowing about the abuse or doing any wrong.
One player even said in an interview with the FA: ‘The amount of times I wanted to say something to Ruud Gullit… but Ruud Gullit didn’t even know what was going on. They didn’t do these things in front of Ruud.’
WIlliams and Rix worked under the likes of Ruud Gullit at Stamford Bridge. None of the managers is accused of any wrongdoing
Wiliams (pictured circa 1990) was a prominent figure at Chelsea for more than 25 years
GRAHAM RIX: ‘NO ONE WILL GIVE ME A JOB’
In an interview with the Independent in 2013, Graham Rix complained that he could no longer find a job in football.
‘It’s tough being out of work but money’s not everything,’ he said.
‘I’m still on the lookout, I want something to happen and I’ve applied for so many jobs, so many jobs… Sometimes, but not always, you get a letter or email back saying thanks but no thanks.
‘I’m not bothered about being Mr Big Shot, I just want to pass on what I’ve got in my head, whether it’s at an academy, reserve team, U21s, anything. Without blowing my own trumpet, that’s where my forte lies.’
On his prison stint, he said: ‘I made a mistake, admitted it and accepted it. I was in prison and I’ve done everything I had to with the (sex offenders) register and all of that. I don’t want to sound self-pitying, as though people owe me a favour, but when I’m not working for long periods it does get me down.
‘I just want to get on with my life, and when I’ve been in football for so long, what else am I going to do?’
But, as reported by the Guardian, the FA received evidence that the club was seen as ‘feral environment’ for some young black youth players, with one of the allegations claiming they were treated ‘like a race of f****** dogs’.
Eventually Rix was allegedly called out by one player, who asked him to stop ‘digging me out’. The former coach responded, the paper reports, by later hitting the player on the back of the head and kicking him twice while he sat on the floor.
In another session, Rix allegedly left the player with a bleeding nose after launching a throw-in straight into his face. But the abuse is reported to have reached a crescendo after the coach asked the player if he had ‘tried to f*** any of our white girls’ the previous weekend.
When the youngster stood up to him, Rix is alleged to have thrown coffee in his face. ‘It burnt 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.’
The Guardian also report that the player once asked the coach to stop making what he considered to be suggestive remarks towards his sister. Rix is alleged to have replied angrily: ‘I will do whatever I want and if I fancy a bit of black I guarantee her black a**e will get it.’
The accusation, which appears in a legal letter sent to Chelsea, claims that the player was then punched him in the scrotum.
One player is alleged to have been called names such as ‘darkie’, ‘n*gn*g’, and ‘black b******’
According to one former player Williams ‘is a walking piece of dirt, but he had power’
It reads: ‘Our client fell to the floor in excruciating pain and Rix walked off laughing while looking over his shoulder.’
During another game, Rix is accused of embarrassing one outfield player by bringing on a goalkeeper in his place. While the player showered after the game, the coach allegedly shouted that ‘if his heart was as big as his c***, he would be a great player that ran more’.
He reportedly followed up the alleged racist remark by saying: ‘(The player was) the only person in the whole stadium to be able to enjoy the 40-degree heat’ as ‘blacks were always winning the long-distance Olympic events in the heat, if they weren’t chucking spears’.
The same player is alleged to have been called ‘darkie’, a ‘n*gn*g’, a ‘black b******’, a ‘w**’, ‘midnight’ and ‘jigaboo,’ while Williams is accused of telling him to ‘f*** off back to Africa’ and ‘sell drugs or rob old grannies’.
That particular prospect, who is now in his late-30s, left the club but claims the abuse still affected him in his adult life. According to the Guardian, everyday he would walk to the 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.’
In 1999, Rix served six months in jail after admitting having unlawful sex with a 15-year-old girl
The paper also claim that one player alleges that Williams ‘seemed to target him’. He told the newspaper that the former coach would engage in ‘flicking my scrotum, flicking my penis, patting my bum’ while he was still a minor.
The FA have also come in for criticism by a player, who claims that he tried to ring chief executive Graham Kelly to discuss the allegations. But after claiming he wasn’t even put through, he said: ‘The FA have failed me in the way of not protecting me as a minor.’
That same player says he was abused from the age of ’12, 13′. The Guardian quote him as saying: ‘The vernacular he (Williams) was using was: “You little black b******, you c***, you little w**, 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****** blackies here then. F****** rubber lips. Look at their f****** big noses. You black b******. Been f****** robbing cars, have you?” Let me tell you something – that is the most demoralising feeling you could ever have.’
He added in an interview with the FA: ‘I just didn’t know how to handle it and it was constant … the racial slurs of “c**n,” “w*g,” “monkey”… “smoking wacky-backy,” which is marijuana, or “black b******,” “f****** black b******,” “mango-muncher”, “n*****.”
Rix had a short spell as caretaker manager at Chelsea after the departure of Gianluca Vialli
‘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.’
It is not the first time Williams has been accused of making deplorable comments towards his players. The 68-year-old was accused of homophobia by former defender Graham Le Saux.
‘He would wander up to me before training and say: “Come on, p**f, get your boots on”,’ Le Saux wrote in 2007. Six years on the coach was later sacked by Leeds for gross misconduct after emailing pornographic images of women to a number of colleagues.
Rix, too, has previously hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. In 1999, the 50-year-old served six months in prison after admitting having unlawful sex with an underage girl and indecent assault. He returned to the club immediately after his release and even had a short spell as caretaker manager after Vialli left.