CAS Trust were shocked, to say the least, by comments made by CEO Katrien Meire at the Telegraph Business of Sport Conference in London yesterday. Meire accused fans of “extreme abuse and criminal offences committed against (herself)” and ludicrously equated lack of respect and chanting at recent protests, to racist abuse: “Just like when I started supporting football 15 years ago. Whenever there was a black player they would make noises.” She seems to be lashing out at all Charlton fans as “they” and “them” whilst denigrating the long-standing and carefully-protected reputation of our football club.
The Trust takes this matter extremely seriously and we are considering bringing the public comments made by Meire to the attention of The Football Association for investigation under Rule E3(1), regarding bringing the game into disrepute.
Under no circumstances does the Trust, either independently or as a coalition member of CARD, condone any illegal action against the club or any employees. If Meire has evidence of any criminal acts, then we urge her to report these to the police.
To make comparisons between Charlton Athletic protest actions and racist chanting or noises is unforgivable. Although Meire has previously stated that she does not care about our history, we respectfully suggest she looks back 23 years to 1993. She will discover that Charlton officials and supporters were instrumental in leading the Red, White and Black anti-racism campaign, holding the first event of this kind in England. The club and fans have continued to lend strong support ever since. In fact, 15 years ago, when Meire claims to be hearing such offensive chanting in Belgium, Charlton fans were unanimously celebrating Chris Powell’s inclusion in the England squad, simply because he was the first CAFC player to be capped for decades.
The Trust will defend rigorously our supporters’ reputation and that of Charlton Athletic as a family-friendly and welcoming club for this and future generations. The football community respects Charlton fans and we have welcomed overt support at recent protests from opposition fans. It used to be quoted that we were ‘everyone’s favourite second team’ - an accolade we intend to reclaim once this regime has finally departed.
This latest episode only confirms our belief that there is a complete breakdown of relationship and trust between the owners and the supporters. Therefore the only avenue open to them is to sell the club and to do so as soon as possible.