Newspaper headlines: Chelsea fans hunt and Putin 'danger'

There is condemnation in Thursday's newspapers of the Chelsea Football Club supporters who prevented a black man from boarding a Paris Metro train and used racist chants.

As UK police investigate the incident, the Daily Mirror says the "disgusting behaviour brings shame not only on the club but on all of English football", while Metro describes the "huge backlash" against the "thugs".

The Guardian, which originally broke the story that a video showing the events at Richelieu-Drouot station on Tuesday had emerged, says that Chelsea appealed to their own fans to help track down the group of supporters and was quick to criticise their behaviour.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter says Chelsea has a duty to their fans, as well as to wider society, to confront those who stain the club's name - and ban them for life.

Image copyright Guardian

But he adds the "depressing events... have potentially damaging ramifications for English football. The Football Association is often perceived abroad as being a rather sanctimonious mother of the game, being quick to lecture other nations about its problems."

The Independent's chief football correspondent Sam Wallace sees the video as "poison" for Chelsea and the "global identity they seek to project of a modern, diverse European super-club in one of the most multicultural cities in the world".

A number of papers carry a claim by one supporter on the train that the man was pushed away only because he was a fan of Paris St-Germain, Chelsea's opponents in their Champions League match, and the chanting was unrelated and taken out of context in media reports.

Matthew Syed in the Times sees it differently but suggests the incident was "not representative of a wider problem".

"It isn't even representative of Chelsea fans," he writes. "Football is "patiently winning the battle against racism" that blighted the game in the past.

But the Guardian's Barney Ronay believes that regular followers of football will feel "horror, sadness and embarrassment - but not surprise" at the events.

He adds: "The old poison has still lingered on, a background ripple, clinging on through the lip service and corporate cleansing."


'Weary withdrawal'

The UK defence secretary's warning that Russia may try to destabilise the Baltic states is seen as credible by the Times and Daily Telegraph.

Michael Fallon was speaking as pro-Russian separatists overran the eastern Ukrainian town of Debaltseve in defiance of a ceasefire - and both papers carry his comments on their front pages.

Mr Fallon said there was "real and present danger" that President Vladimir Putin may use the same Kremlin-backed subversion displayed in Crimea and eastern Ukraine to launch a campaign of undercover attacks on Nato members Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia.

In an editorial, the Times says Mr Fallon cannot be accused of exaggerating.

"Mr Putin has torn up every rule of peaceful international statecraft," it adds, demanding that the West reinforce Nato's eastern defences and impose new tougher sanctions.

The Daily Telegraph's leader says the West should not seek direct conflict with Moscow but the "best way to avoid such a confrontation would be to prepare for any potential crisis".

It says Wednesday's withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Debaltseve was illustrative of a weakening of last week's peace agreement in Minsk. It indicates the West should not rely upon Moscow's "good intentions and must proceed with hard-headed realism".

Image copyright AP

Oliver Carroll in the Independent describes the "reluctant" departure of Ukrainian troops from the strategic town. "Some of the soldiers were agitated, others euphoric," he writes. "Shouts of 'Glory to Ukraine' went up, and victory salutes were brandished. Yet their posturing seemed hollow, given the operation they were engaged in."

The Guardian also carries a dispatch from Ukraine on its front page, with correspondents Alec Luhn and Oksana Grytsenko witnessing "weary soldiers" retreating, from the "carnage and destruction".

In a leading article, the paper says the ceasefire appears to be "damaged but not dead", envisaging "a period when divergent objectives are pursued by non-warlike means".


Eye-catching headlines


'Medicine's limits'

NHS spending comes under the spotlight as analysis suggests the price officials in England pay for new medicines is too high.

The Financial Times says the findings by University of York researchers will intensify the debate over the price of drugs in the UK and beyond.

The Independent's health correspondent Charlie Cooper notes the study was unable to determine exactly how transferring money from other parts of the NHS to new drugs was harming patients, but said factors such as staffing, cuts to services, and delays in getting treatment are likely to have an impact.

The Sun says it backs the idea that doctors need to be tougher on patients for their own good - and for the financial health of the NHS.

"The NHS should educate people more about taking responsibility for their health and accepting medicine's limits," it adds.

Council budget cuts that have left an 82-year-old woman in Cornwall in hospital after hip surgery, instead of being cared for at home, are highlighted by the Daily Mirror and Daily Express. The Express says the situation is "absurd" because any saving on her care is being offset by the estimated £1,900-a-week cost to the NHS of keeping her in hospital.

Meanwhile, a call by the head of the NHS in England for a rise in the price of alcohol prompts the Daily Mail to suggest in a headline that "binge drinking is stretching A&E services to breaking point".

Simon Steven's appeal also features on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. He is calling for the price of cheap alcohol in particular to rise and says action on alcohol pricing should be an immediate priority for the next government.

The Telegraph reports that Mr Stevens told a health event run by the charity the King's Fund that heavy drinking and soaring levels of sugar consumption were two of the most urgent health problems facing the nation.


'Not for the skip'

A sculpture of a black cat that was nearly thrown into a skip during a house clearance has been revealed to be an ancient Egyptian relic that might have belonged to the man who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Could the sculpture once have belonged to archaeologist Howard Carter?

The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail report the seven inches-high memento was found in front of a gas fire in Penzance, Cornwall, when a family called in auctioneers following the death of their elderly mother.

Only then did the family reveal that their late father used to be the managing director of the Spink auction house in London, which in 1939 sold the estate of archaeologist Howard Carter. But according to the Mail, the family say they always believed it to be a cheap copy of an Egyptian bronze.

The British Museum has confirmed the sculpture originated from 600BC and Penzance Auction Rooms says it could now go under the hammer for as much as £50,000.


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