October 1 – In one of the first moves of its kind, a fan who was identified for online racial abuse of a player from English Championship club West Bromwich Albion has been jailed for eight weeks.
Simon Silwood targeted midfielder Romaine Sawyers after West Bromwich lost 5-0 to Manchester City in an English Premier League match in January. The courts found him guilty of having posted a “grossly offensive message”.
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 defeat but blamed an error made by using predictive text.
Silwood, who has been banned from attending West Brom games for life, claimed at his trial that when he posted the word “baboon”, he actually meant to use the word “buffoon”, but it was autocorrected on his phone while sending.
That was rejected, the judge ruling his Facebook message was “motivated by or demonstrated hostility based on race”.
Several players have been subjected to racial abuse online in recent months, especially in the Premier League, and the authorities have been urging social media firms to do more to tackle the problem.
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