'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

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone