Uefa should look at throwing Paris St-German out of the Champions League if their fans are found guilty of abusing disabled Chelsea supporters, says Disabilities Minister Mike Penning.
Five Chelsea fans and their carers say they were spat on and had bottles, chewing gum and coins thrown at them at the Parc des Princes on 2 April. “There’s no point in fining a club. It’s loose change,” he told BBC Sport. I think if they’re in the Champions League next year should be looked at.”
Chelsea lost their first-leg quarter-final in Paris but won the return leg to progress to the semi-final of Europe’s elite club competition.
Paris St-Germain could face a partial stadium closure if found guilty of discriminating against disabled Chelsea fans, with Uefa expected to announce its decision on 17 July.
Lisa Hayden, a wheelchair user and Chelsea season ticket holder, said she was terrified by the ordeal. “It was very threatening. I felt we didn’t stand a chance in there and that someone was going to get seriously injured,” she said.
“It seemed like I was sitting in hell and it was something that I had no control over.”
Hayden suffered a serious brain injury in 1988 that has left her susceptible to another haemorrhage and said a blow to the head from a bottle or coin could have killed her. “I felt no-one had our backs: there were 10 of us and thousands of them and I didn’t think we were going to get out of there,” she added. “I had a panic attack at the end of the match and I couldn’t calm down.”
The issue of seating disabled fans with opposing supporters is not confined to the Parc des Princes. Disability charity Level Playing Field says that last season five clubs in the Premier League sat away fans in the home section: Aston Villa, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. “I don’t think that’s acceptable,” said Penning. “Disabled fans are fans and they shouldn’t be treated any differently. They should be sat with their own fans and be able to enjoy the game like everyone else.”
Lisa’s husband Peter, who was also at the Parc de Princes, said the treatment of disabled fans had to improve. “I think it’s unbelievable in this day and age,” he said. “I don’t know why they can’t make room for disabled fans to sit with their own fans away from home.”
Uefa and Paris St-Germain both declined to comment while the investigation into the allegations is ongoing.
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Article originally appeared on BBC Sport website.