Chelsea’s first black player apologises for sharing video of Conor Gallagher and mascot | Football

Chelsea said the abuse Conor Gallagher had received was ‘completely unacceptable’ (Picture: Getty)

Paul Canoville, Chelsea’s first black player, has issued an apology for being one of the many to share a video of Conor Gallagher which led to the midfielder being accused of racism.

The incident featured in the clip occurred in the moments leading up to Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Burnley at Stamford Bridge, in which Cole Palmer twice put the hosts in front before the game finished 2-2.

Captaining Chelsea in Reece James’ absence, Gallagher was pictured in the tunnel with two matchday mascots and inadvertently left one of the youngsters, who happened to be black, hanging as he held out his hand for a high five.

A video of the moment quickly went viral and Gallagher was subsequently met with a tirade of abuse on his social media pages, with some fans even accusing the England international of racism and ignoring the mascot on purpose.

On Wednesday, Chelsea released a statement on their official website condemning the ‘completely unacceptable’ abuse Gallagher had received, with the club stating that they were ‘proud’ of their ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’.

Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, said he had been saddened by the backlash Gallagher had faced, while arguing that the media industry and football as a whole should join forces in ‘supporting’ individuals subjected to such treatment.

‘That has upset me so much because no-one wants to do something like this, with this intention,’ The Chelsea head coach told reporters.

The young mascot was left hanging by Gallagher in the viral video (Picture: Viaplay)

‘He was so well, there are so many videos and photography and pictures showing Conor being really well with both mascots.

‘And then… when you play football, and you are there, and you are focusing on too many things, you’re focusing to play and to start the game.

‘Look, that sometimes can happen. But I think people want to abuse people, people always try to find things to create a mess and to abuse the people that, if you know them, I know Conor, I know the people that are involved here in Chelsea.’

Pochettino sad he was ‘upset’ about the abuse Gallagher had received (Picture: Getty)

The Argentine added: ‘I can talk for the people that I know and, come on, there is never that intention. Conor is a great, great kid and always is caring about everything.

‘I hate when people feel free to abuse on social media and things like this. You don’t believe that we need to stop all these types of things?

‘It’s like today, it’s so easy to abuse people and then to pay attention to it [the controversy] when these types of things never happened, to give too much attention to people who want to create this type of mess and to insult and to abuse other people. Please stop. I think we are all responsible about that.

‘How is it possible to believe that the intention of Conor is to ignore a mascot? Come on! It makes me very, very sad. I know Conor and he does not deserve to be abused. No-one deserves to be abused, but knowing him, come on, it’s not [right]. I am seeing too many things that are happening, not only in England but the rest of the world.’

Canoville became the first player to represent Chelsea in 1982 (Picture: Getty)

Former Chelsea winger Canoville, who became the first black player to represent the Blues in 1982, was one of the many to share the video on X, formerly Twitter, featuring Gallagher and the young mascot.

Canoville has since removed the clip from his page and apologised for inadvertently contributing to the pile on by circulating the post.

‘Sorry to Conor & all blue bhoys n girls,’ Conville wrote on X.

‘I ‘went too quickly to post’ this marn’ as you know I’m very passionate about equality for all Much love #UTC.’

Gallagher, who was replaced by Noni Madueke in the second half of Chelsea’s draw with Burnley, looks set to continue his run in Pochettino’s starting XI versus Manchester United this evening.

The England midfielder has shone in an otherwise poor season for the Blues, racking up two goals and five assists in the top flight, with the club languishing down in 12th in the table.

Capped 12 times by the Three Lions, Gallagher is widely expected to be a part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for this summer’s European Championships in Germany.

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