High court documents obtained by sports outlet The Athletic have revealed the details and extent of alleged “racist bullying” at Chelsea during the 1990s, claiming that young black players were punched and kicked by coaches.
As revealed by The Athletic, one of the players, currently suing the Premier League giants for aggravated damages, claims he was punched on various occasions by Graham Rix, the club’s ex-youth team coach, while also the victim of alleged repeated attacks from Gwyn Williams, the former director of youth development.
Rix is said to have punched a youth team player between the legs as part of a four-year ordeal which left the teenage victim, a man now in his forties, with PTSD, according to court papers.
Rix stands accused of leaving the same victim with minor burns after he poured a hot cup of coffee on his head, while the former coach is also said to have hurled a ball into the boy’s face from point-blank range during a training match, leaving him writing on the floor with a bloodied nose.
A former England international who notched 17 caps, Rix has recently returned to football at Gosport Borough, where he is the first team coach of the seventh-tier Southern League Premier Division South minnows.
He is understood to deny the allegations, with Williams, whose 27-year relationship with Chelsea saw him in a variety of roles including men’s first team assistant manager, accepting he used racial language yet submitting evidence to say it was never intended maliciously.
Like Rix, he is understood to have denied assaulting any player, and both men have declined to pass comment on their legal woes.
The allegations have been set out in papers submitted to a British High Court ahead of a five-week trial which will start on March 7 next year.
It involves four of 10 players who have launched their civil claims against Chelsea as the former employers of Rix and Williams.
Via their insurers’ lawyers, Chelsea deny vicarious liability, but they have accepted elsewhere their club had a racist culture at the time which forced them to make a public apology in 2019.
The case – named AMX v Chelsea Football Club Limited – seems set to become arguably the most high-profile of its kind, and will feature 62 witnesses and some of the biggest names to have played, or worked, for the west Londoners during the Ken Bates era.
Legal documents identify David James, an ex-England goalkeeper, as one of the key witnesses due to an incident that allegedly occurred during Liverpool playing at Stamford Bridge on December 30, 1995.
The match had finished 2-2, with black and mixed-race players on either side. But when James was talking to Williams, he is alleged by James Counsell QC – representing the players – to have “grabbed the claimant by the collar of his tracksuit and accused him of being a ‘fake c**n’ whereas, he said, James was a ‘proper c**n’.”
The remarks, “caused the claimant much embarrassment and distress and led to James taking (him) aside, shortly afterwards, to advise him that he would have to ignore Williams’s racist remarks if he wanted to get on, because Williams ‘had a lot of clout’.”
James said to The Athletic: “I have no recollection of the event and can’t add any facts” but although refusing to help with the case, might be summoned anyway with several other witnesses reportedly reluctant to be involved.
The claimant has described Chelsea during he period in question as a “feral environment” where black players were “treated like a race of f*cking dogs.”
A fellow player called branded it a “mini-apartheid state” and an independent Barnardo’s charity inquiry concluded in 2019 how “the ongoing and repeated use of racially abusive language … appears to have created an atmosphere in which abuse was normalized”.
Chelsea fully accepted the findings that its former employee Williams targeted boys, some as young as 12, with his “daily tirade of racial abuse”.
A seven-month police investigation found insufficient evidence to take any further action, but separate evidence presented to the High Court is considered the most shocking yet.
At a match in Spain, Rix allegedly yet at one claimant, in the presence of others, how if his “heart was as big as his c*ck, he would be a great player”.
This abuse met by laughter, Rix went on and said the victim “should have been the only person in the whole stadium to be able to endure the 40-degree heat, as blacks were always winning the long-distance Olympic events in the heat, if they weren’t spear-chucking”.
Separately, a teenage apprentice was asked by Rix when cleaning a professional player’s boots if he “f*cked any of our white birds” the previous weekend.
“Rix told him that if it was his daughter he would ‘lynch (his) black arse’,” wrote Counsell.
“The claimant, tired of the constant harassment, countered by joking that that may happen one day, at which (point) Rix lost his temper and poured a scalding cup of coffee over the claimant’s head, causing him to suffer minor burn injuries.”
When the families of youth team players had been invited to meet the club’s managing director at the time – Colin Hutchinson – plus Rix and Williams at Stamford Bridge, Rix is accused of making a series of sexually suggestive comments towards one of players’ sisters, who was then in her mid-twenties, and also invited her out for a drink.
When the woman’s brother complained the next day, he was allegedly punched in the groin by Rix and told: “I will do whatever I want and I fancy a bit of black – I guarantee that her black ass will like it.”