Landmark ban for fan who sent racist abuse
A mAn who racially abused Brentford striker Ivan Toney on social media has been handed a landmark ban from every UK football stadium for three years, and a suspended prison sentence. Antonio neill, 24, sent the vile message to Toney via Instagram last October, after the forward had scored against Brighton. It was described by a judge as ‘exceptionally offensive’ and with ‘racial overtones’.
Toney shared the abuse publicly, prompting a police investigation. neill, from Blyth, northumberland, pleaded guilty to sending an offensive message and apologised to Toney (below) in court.
He was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. neill is also the first person to be banned from every UK stadium under the police, crime, sentencing and courts act 2022, legislation brought in to widen the scope of banning orders for online hate crimes.
The ban covers clubs in the Premier League, Championship, Leagues One and Two and the national League, as well as to England home internationals, qualifiers and overseas tournaments. ‘I’m pleased that racial abuse ends in court,’ said Brentford boss Thomas Frank.
‘I think the sentence could be harder but it’s a good step in the right direction to show there’s no room for racism. Hopefully it’s a reminder to social media companies they can do more.’
A club statement added: ‘Ivan Toney has been subject to sickening racist abuse on a regular basis and we want to see tough action taken against anyone found guilty of such abuse.’
Kick It Out said: ‘This is a landmark decision which we hope will set the standard for similar cases going forward.’