A man who racially abused West Bromwich Albion midfielder Romaine Sawyers online received an eight-week prison sentence on Thursday.
Simon Silwood, 50, targeted Sawyers after West Bromwich lost 5-0 to Manchester City in an English Premier League match in January. Birmingham Magistrates Court found him guilty of having posted a “grossly offensive message”.
West Bromwich banned Silwood for life earlier this month.
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The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that during his police interview, Silwood admitted to posting a message on social media after becoming upset by the 5-0 defeat but blamed an error made by using predictive text.
The judge said his message was “motivated by or demonstrated hostility based on race”.
“Silwood deliberately chose a word known to have clear racist connotations to abuse a footballer due to the colour of his skin.”
“Such behaviour will not be tolerated in football and will be prosecuted by the CPS,” said Mark Johnson of the CPS.
The court ordered Silwood to pay 500 pounds ($684) in compensation and 500 pounds in court costs.
West Bromwich was relegated at the end of last season.
Sawyers said he welcomed the custodial sentence and was now focused on putting the incident behind him, adding that he would donate the 500 pounds awarded to a local West Midlands charity.
“I hope this case will serve as a deterrent to others,” he said in a statement.
“This is an incident that has affected me deeply, but I would like to encourage fellow players to report all racial abuse to the police.
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“It is widely accepted that social media companies must do more to stop the publication of racism on their platforms. I again urge them to take the necessary action required to prevent anyone from receiving the abuse I experienced.”
Several players have been subjected to racial abuse online in recent months, especially in the Premier League, and English football has been piling pressure on social media firms to do more to tackle the problem.