An ex youth team player has become the first alleged victim of racial abuse at Chelsea to reveal his identity and talk publicly about “internal racism and bullying”.
Speaking exclusively to BBC Sport, Damien Wynter claimed that ex-coach Gwyn Williams labelled him the ‘brother’ and “did nothing” to stop what Wynter says he experienced.
According to him, this included not being passed the ball in training by team-mates because of his skin colour.
Wynter’s allegations take the total number of former Chelsea youth players to have made claims of historical racial abuse by either Williams or ex-coach Graham Rix to eight, following previous claims made by players in January and earlier this month.
Two white former players, Gary Baker and Grant Lunn, came forward as witnesses to support those claims.
However, Wynter is the first alleged victim to publicly identify himself.
Both Williams and Rix deny “all and any allegations of racial or other abuse”.
A Chelsea statement said they are taking the allegations “extremely seriously” and last week they enlisted the children’s charity Barnardo’s to oversee an independent investigation.
The club added: “The allegations will be fully investigated. We are absolutely determined to do the right thing, to assist the authorities and any investigations they may carry out, and to fully support those affected which would include counselling for any former player that may need it.”
‘I couldn’t say anything’
Wynter, who was at Chelsea for a two-year period in the 1990s, said: “I was experiencing racism at school, so my escape was football and that’s where the other racism started.
“It wasn’t just in the changing-room it was from staff itself. Was it direct racism? I’d say so.
“My first experience at Chelsea with racism was by Gwyn, and he called me the ‘Brother’. From then I was known as the ‘Brother’. And there were no other black boys in that squad for quite a while, so I always wondered why they kept calling me the ‘Brother’ because what I got at school was racism.
“So I spoke to my dad and he spoke to Gwyn about calling me a ‘brother’ and Gwyn said that I gave as good as I got.
“But I said to my dad, ‘How can I give as good as I got being the only black boy in the team?’ I was intimidated. So then, nothing was done about that, so during the season Gwyn, he put his hand on my shoulder, he was a big man, I hadn’t seen him, I hadn’t spoken to him, but I remember looking up and he says, ‘You can do better than that, black boys can run’.
“Then it got to the showers. Within the changing-room they used to talk about my penis. So again, my dad spoke to Gwyn. Nothing was done. They started talking about my penis and the size of black men’s dicks, so I never used to wash and I used to go home with my dad and I never told him why. He used to say ‘Why didn’t you shower?’ Because I wasn’t comfortable going in the showers.
“I remember how Gwyn made me feel and the worst thing is, I couldn’t say anything because there was nobody else to talk to – Gwyn was Chelsea football club.”
‘I just walked away’
Wynter, who now works as a coach driver in Kent, claims that his experiences led to him leaving Chelsea and turning his back on a potentially promising career in football.
He said: “I made a choice to leave, I wasn’t thrown out, and Gwyn phoned up my dad and asked him for me to come back and I said no.
“And my dad explained to him how he made me feel and what happened and what I was going through with the players.
“During training and games, they never used to pass the ball to me. Never. And this is something my mum recognized and brought back to me.
“And I just walked away because when you break someone’s spirit there isn’t much else you’ve got left.
“Would I have made it? Yeah, so all I want to say is, thanks Gwyn for fighting for me, mate.
“I look at Ashley Cole and I look at the vacant space there was at Chelsea at left-back and I do believe somewhere along the line that role was meant for me, and I still believe that role was meant for me, because I was good.
“There’s no one who can tell you how good I wasn’t. Because I know in my heart of hearts I was the best. They knew the potential I had. And then you leave and what do you have?”
Wynter is adamant that what he experienced amounted to racial discrimination.
“It was 100% because as a 13, 14, 15 going on 16-year-old boy you don’t really understand what racism is because people are laughing so you question yourself,” he said.
“Management are saying it so you question yourself. So when he said black boys can run faster than that, now I understand what it was but at the time, I ran, and to be honest I haven’t stopped running because it’s a scar and it’s a deep scar.
“But, again, I walked away. I wasn’t pushed out because they called me to come back but I just couldn’t take it really. It was all about my belief in myself, but it went.”
“My belief was Gwyn knew what he was saying and he knew what he was doing because I didn’t hear him say that to any of the white boys on the team.”
Wynter says he is currently not pursuing any legal claims and just wants to tell of his experiences and show his support for those who have already come forward.
“I’ll provide [testimony], but I just want it on record I don’t want anything from it,” he said.
“If I can be of any assistance, I’d rather just be a voice and nothing else.”
“Everything adds up – yesterday in the car, I just started crying because it came back. I don’t know what these players [who have already come forward] went through but I guarantee they went through something.
“Racism’s everywhere. But definitely football clubs and when young kids are involved the people at the top have a responsibility to highlight this and filter it through because that’s the only way it’s going to change.”Source:bbcsport