A man has been sentenced after being found guilty of posting racial slurs towards England players on social media on the night of the Euro 2020 final in July last year.
Shortly after England lost to Italy at Wembley, Hugh Laidlaw, a 50-year-old from Reading, posted an offensive image and comments targeting the three players who missed the penalty shoot-out during of the shooting on the Metal Detecting UK Facebook page.
At Reading Magistrates’ Court, Laidlaw was found guilty of sending an offensive message through a public communications network. He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay a fine of £1,000, costs of £775 and a surcharge of £128.
Laidlaw was reported to the police by members of the Facebook group after the post was posted. When questioned by police, Laidlaw claimed he accidentally shared what he thought was a funny post after having a few drinks, then tried to claim his account had been hacked to distance himself from the post.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Benjamin May of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Hugh Laidlaw’s hateful and racist message was a direct attack on England players, and those with whom it was shared were disgusted and upset.
“Racist abuse will not be tolerated and, as this case has shown, when offensive content is reported to the police and our legal tests are met, we can successfully bring offenders to justice.”
CPS Senior Sports Prosecutor Douglas Mackay said: “Over the past few years and months there has been an increase in hate crime related to sporting events.
“At CPS, we play a crucial role in tackling these crimes and making our national sport inclusive and safe to watch. There is no place for hate in football and hate crimes like this have a significant impact on the victims.”
In June, a shocking report released by FIFA and FIFPRO revealed that more than half of the players who played in the last Euro 2020 and AFCON finals were abused online before, during and after the game.
Homophobic abuse was the most common, followed by racism, and although world football’s governing body does not name names, Sky Sports News understands that the most abused players in the Euro 2020 final were Bukayo Saka of Arsenal and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United, who both missed the match. place as England lost to Italy on penalties at Wembley last July.
In both tournaments, most abuse came from the targeted players’ home countries – 38% from the UK and 19% from Egypt after they were also beaten on penalties by Senegal in the final CAN in February.
In response, FIFA and FIFPRO, the global representative body for professional footballers, announce that they will launch a moderation service dedicated to men’s and women’s football during this winter’s World Cup “which will analyze hate speech terms recognized posts on identified social media accounts, and once detected, block that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.”
Hate won’t win
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