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Nine men were arrested at early morning raids at addresses including homes in Bexley as part of an operation into suspected racist chanting by football fans on a train earlier this month.

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Police and Charlton FC officials made the arrests as part of investigations into allegations that a group of fans, who were believed to be Charlton supporters, had been rowdy and intimidating and chanting racist songs on a train between Putney and Waterloo after an away match against Fulham on January 7.

They arrested a 21-year-old man, two 23-year-old men and a 24-year-old man from Abbey Wood. Other arrests included a 30-year-old man from Kidbrooke, a 21-year-old Woolwich man and a 20-year-old man from Orpington.

The men were taken into custody in North London for further questioning.

Detective Inspector Ashley Cooper, leading the investigation for British Transport Police said the men were currently helping investigators with their inquiries into the incident.

He said: “We launched Operation Midas after a group of men, who we believe to be Charlton Athletic supporters, boarded a train at Putney and were heard chanting racist songs – something which was both offensive and extremely intimidating for other passengers on board.

“My team of detectives have worked quickly to gather evidence and by working closely with Charlton Athletic FC, coupled with excellent CCTV footage, intelligence reports and statements from witnesses, we’ve been able to move swiftly and make this morning’s arrests.”

Charlton chief executive Stephen Kavanagh who accompanied police on their early morning arrests said: “This kind of abhorrent behaviour is totally condemned by our club, and in addition to assisting the police, for our own part we will be seeking to ban for life anyone who is found guilty of racially offensive chanting.

“We have been a pioneer of anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives in football, so although these are isolated incidents and in no way reflect the overwhelming majority of Charlton supporters, these recent arrests are saddening to all those who have worked so hard over many decades.

“We have worked closely with the British Transport Police and the club’s football intelligence officer to identify those responsible, and will continue to do all we can to ensure that racism has no place at our club or in football.”

DI Cooper continued: “Racism in our communities and on the rail network is utterly unacceptable and where it is reported to us we will do everything in our power to locate those responsible.

“Everyone has the right to go to travel without fear of abuse or threatening behaviour, and when that behaviour is further exacerbated by racist undertones, our stance becomes firmer still.”

If you have any information about this incident contact BTP on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 quoting incident B11/LSA of 23/01/2012, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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