Thierry Henry: racist chants are “a normality” in football stadiums

The former Arsenal footballer tells The Jonathan Ross Show about the racist "monkey chants" he experienced as a player, and responds to the Paris metro incident involving Chelsea fans

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Former Arsenal and France player Thierry Henry has called for a policy of zero tolerance towards racism following the alleged incident involving Chelsea fans on the Paris metro. 

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Henry, who lived in Paris as a child, responded on The Jonathan Ross Show to the footage of Chelsea fans apparently pushing a black man off a French train. “You can’t have a go at Chelsea because it’s difficult to control who is going to travel,” he said, coming to the defence of the club. “You can’t have that control.”

However, the player turned Sky Sports pundit added that he feared that “monkey chants” and other racist abuse had become “a normality”, saying “once you are in the stadium you can say whatever you want, and that’s not on.”

Henry also said that he had been a victim of racism while he was playing, experiencing monkey chants and spitting when he went to take a corner.

“You play a game and you try to concentrate and keep your composure, and what you hear sometimes is ‘black’ this and ’monkey’ and monkey chants and people spitting at you when you take a corner kick and it is not easy”.

In 2004, then-Spanish national coach Luis Aragones was fined for calling Henry a “black s**t”, but 37-year-old Henry said that the only solution now was “zero tolerance”.

“It is not easy, and that has to stop, and what has to be done for it to stop, I don’t know,” he said. “You need to have a zero tolerance, I believe in that. I did encounter [racism] and it is not easy to deal with I’m telling you because when you lose it [everybody is] like ‘he should know better, come on, behave!’

“I am a human being and that’s not the type of thing you want to hear… It is not an easy one, we do not want to see that and it has to stop.”

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Watch Thierry Henry on The Jonathan Ross Show this Saturday at 9pm on ITV