March 15 – A man who racially abused Premier League striker Ivan Toney has been banned from every football stadium in Britain for three years in what police say is a “landmark ruling”.
Antonio Neill, 24, sent a racist message to the Brentford forward on his Instagram account after he scored two goals against Brighton in a Premier League match in October.
Police traced the message to Neill after Toney shared a picture of the abuse.
The ban covers clubs in the Premier League, the Championship, Leagues One and Two and the National League, as well as England home internationals, qualifying matches and tournaments played overseas.
Neill pleaded guilty to sending an offensive message when he appeared before magistrates on January 25. He has now been handed a four-month suspended sentence at the same court – in addition to the three-year banning order.
New legislation was brought in last year to widen the scope of banning orders for online hate crimes.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank said he hopes the ruling shows social media companies that they can do “even more” to prevent abuse.
“It’s a very strong message,” said Frank. “Personally I’m very pleased that racial abuse is getting into court.
“I think the sentence is not hard enough, it could be harder – it’s a suspended sentence. But I think it’s a good step in the right direction to hopefully show the world that there’s no room for racial abuse.
“Hopefully it’s also a reminder to the social media companies that they can do even more. Also the situation with [Southampton’s Kyle] Walker-Peters, what he experienced also, it’s very sad. It’s a constant development area for society. We need to be very aware of that.”
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