Souleymane Sylla, the man who was prevented from boarding a Paris Metro train by Chelsea fans in February 2015, will attend the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea on February 16.
PSG invited French-Mauritian Sylla to the Parc des Princes for the last-16 first-leg fixture, according to the Press Association (h/t the Guardian) on Tuesday, almost exactly a year after he was subject to racist abuse by supporters of Premier League giants Chelsea.
Video footage was posted on February 17, 2015, which showed Chelsea supporters pushing Sylla off the Paris Metro train while chanting "We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it," per Daniel Taylor and Ben Quinn of the Guardian.
The Press Association's Matt McGeehan provided quotes from the father-of-three's lawyer, who confirmed Sylla accepted the invite from PSG, but it was added that Chelsea's open invite hadn't yet received a definitive response:
Matt McGeehan @mattmcgeehan
Sylla's lawyer Jim Michel-Gabriel told PA: "He has decided to go to the match as life must carry on." Open invite from Chelsea remains2/9/2016, 5:52:33 PM
The Guardian confirmed five men were punished following the incident and received football banning orders of up to five years, while each received lifetime bans from Chelsea as a result of their racist abuse.
A month after the Paris incident occurred, Sylla spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live and confessed he was receiving therapy after the ordeal, adding he was unable to sleep as a result (h/t the Daily Mirror's Liam Corless):
Since it happened I've been under a lot of pressure. I'm very scared and I can't sleep any more. Every hour I think about what happened. My family are divided because of this incident. I've got a wife and kids to look after but I'm obliged to tell my family there are people who aren't very nice and don't like black skin, that's the situation.
The Chelsea supporters have destroyed me. Even when I drive my car I feel like I'm being followed. When I go to see my therapist I feel like I'm being followed and I've never had that in my life. The only problem I have in my life now is because of Chelsea and their fans. We're in 2015, not times gone by when people could say discriminatory things about the colour of your skin.
Sylla was forced to take six months off work in the wake of last February's incident, and he only resumed his use of the Paris Metro last Friday, while legal proceedings for his case are still ongoing in France.
Chelsea travel to Paris on February 16 before hosting PSG for the return leg on March 9, still hoping Sylla will accept their invitation in an effort to help make up for the sorry behaviour of a select few club supporters.
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