West Bromwich Albion fan Simon Silwood has been jailed for eight weeks at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court for abusing midfielder Romaine Sawyers on social media.
Silwood, 50, of Kingswinford, West Midlands, was convicted earlier this month of sending a malicious communication to Sawyers. It would be the first case in Britain where a person will serve a prison sentence for racially abusing an online footballer.
The message was released on January 26 after West Brom lost 5-0 to Manchester City.
Silwood will serve half of his sentence in prison and the other half on license and has also been ordered to pay the player £ 500 in compensation and £ 500 in prosecution costs.
Passing sentence, District Judge Briony Clarke said: “This, Mr Silwood, is a serious offense. There is no room for racism or racist abuse online. It goes beyond clearly, in my opinion, the threshold of custody.
“I find that the remorse you have for your actions is really minimal.
Silwood, who has been banned from attending West Brom games for life, claimed at trial that when he posted the word “baboon” he actually meant to use the word “buffoon”, but it was corrected. automatically on his phone when sending.
Commenting on the conviction, Mark Johnson of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “In the 21st century it should be incomprehensible how a self-styled football fan can abuse a player based on his race, let alone a player of the team he claims to support.
“Silwood has deliberately chosen a word known to have clear racist overtones to abuse a footballer because of the color of his skin. Such behavior will not be tolerated in football and will be prosecuted by the PSC. this is a hate crime, we will apply for a harsher sentence to reflect this.
“I would like to thank the witness for bringing Silwood’s message to the attention of West Bromwich Albion who then reported it to West Midlands Police.
“CPS West Midlands is working closely with the West Midlands Police Football Unit and its Hate Crimes Football Officer to ensure that those who commit such offenses are brought to justice.”
The CPS added that it is currently working with police, clubs, player associations and organizations such as the Premier League, EFL and FA, to explain the evidence it needs to cross the threshold of charge.
Elizabeth Jenkins of the CPS said: “There is no room in the game, or anywhere else, for racism. When there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, we will pursue such case and ask for a more severe sentence.
“Hate crimes such as these have a huge impact on players and their mental health. The CPS takes this type of offense very seriously and this case shows that when offensive content is reported to the police, we can successfully bring offenders to justice. “
Kick It Out: Silwood’s conviction reassuring
Sawyers is one of many players who have been the victim of racist abuse online in recent months, especially in the Premier League, and English football has been pressuring social media companies to do more for themselves. tackle the problem.
Troy Townsend, Development Manager at Kick It Out, football’s largest anti-racist organization, said: “Kick It Out welcomes the conviction against Simon Silwood.
“As footballers continue to experience hatred and abuse online, it is reassuring to see responsible individuals held accountable for their actions.
“We encourage all other authorities to take similar cases just as seriously, and we hope this will be a real step forward in ensuring that the spread of racism and discrimination in all its forms, whether online or in stadiums, has serious consequences. “
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Kick It Out is the organization of football for equality and inclusion – working across the football, education and community sectors to fight discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change .