'Toxic' Chelsea mood grows as Fernando Torres boos spark scuffles among fans

Fans come to blows during Swansea defeat while both Rafael Benitez and Bruce Buck face crowd's anger

Chelsea fans groups have warned of a "toxic" atmosphere at Stamford Bridge following Wednesday's 2-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first leg defeat to Swansea City during which there were recriminations between fellow supporters over the booing of Fernando Torres.

In one of the most extraordinary scenes of mass hostility from a home crowd towards their club and manager, the evening started with boos for chairman Bruce Buck when he was introduced on the pitch to make a pre-match presentation to injured goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Following that, there was the usual hostility directed at Rafa Benitez which reached a new intensity towards the end of the game but there was also the first signs of mass discontentment with £50m striker Torres which was given voice when he was substituted in the 81st minute for Demba Ba, whose introduction to the game the home support had chanted for during much of the second half.

Also contributing to the fraught atmosphere was the discontent over the club's refusal to offer Frank Lampard a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of the season. His impending departure, as well as that of Ashley Cole, has become another issue around which disaffected sectors of the support have rallied around.

The jeering for Torres was by no means from all the supporters but it was clearly a significant number. Trizia Fiorellino, the chair of the Chelsea supporters group, said that there was a "toxic" atmosphere in the stands and "scuffles" between fans who disagreed with Torres' treatment and those who booed him.

"What split the fans was Torres, and the moment when he came off," Fiorellino said. "I'm torn, I could never boo a player in a blue shirt but I can understand those who booed him. We have backed him unequivocally for two years and made every excuse under the sun for him, perhaps he was not match fit.

"A lot of fans think Benitez's appointment was to get the best out of him and if anything he's become more immobile, it's like he has given up. There are a lot who feel like me [and couldn't boo] but half the ground was booing. It did cause arguments and scuffles. There was a bit of pushing and some people moved to avoid scuffles. It was a sad state of affairs."

The nature of the club's ownership structure means that there are few opportunities for fans to voice their opinions – as Arsenal supporters do at their annual general meeting – although the Chelsea Pitch Owners scheme does allow for some contact with the club's hierarchy. The next CPO AGM is on 30 January at Stamford Bridge, although matters there relate specifically to the ownership of the freehold of the stadium in which shareholders have a stake. Neither Buck, nor chief executive Ron Gourlay are on the CPO board and are obliged to attend.

Tim Rolls, a writer for the Chelsea fanzine CFCUK, who opposed the club's attempt to buy back the CPO freehold of Stamford Bridge in 2011, said that there were few opportunities for peaceful dissent among supporters, which culminated in the atmosphere during the Swansea game. The traditional singing for sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo in the 16th minute was, he said, another rallying point that was picked up by the media.

"At Southampton [in the FA Cup third round on Saturday] it was clear there were regular away travellers who don't agree with Benitez's appointment, regardless of result," Rolls said. "The best he can hope for is that he is just ignored. I don't think he will ever be welcomed."

John Terry, who has played three games for the club since the start of October was due to play for the Chelsea Under-21s side against their Fulham counterparts in a behind-closed-doors game at the Cobham training ground last night. The club have also been linked with a move for Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini although there is understood to be no prospect of that taking place in this transfer window.

New boy Ba still not match-fit

The question of why Rafa Benitez took so long to introduce new £7.5m striker Demba Ba during Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Swansea City can be answered: the forward was not yet match-fit.

There were chants around the ground from home fans urging Benitez to bring him on, but the club were privately concerned that any more than the nine minutes plus injury time Ba played could have set him back and meant he was unable to play against Stoke City tomorrow. Ba is expected to make his league debut in that match in place of Fernando Torres, who has started all 20 of Chelsea's Premier League games so far.

Sam Wallace

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture