UK: Man (24) Receives Football Ban For Racially Abusing Brentford's Ivan Toney
A 24-year-old man has been banned from every stadium in the United Kingdom for three years for racially abusing Brentford’s Ivan Toney on social media.
Antonio Neill, of Robert Street, Blyth, sent an abusive message to Toney via his Instagram account on 14 October 2022, which the player shared with the public via his account.
An investigation into the message was then launched by the Premier League, the club, the player and the police.
The message was treated as a hate crime and was traced to a suspect in the North Shields area of the UK.
Neill pleaded guilty to sending an offensive message when he appeared before magistrates in Newcastle on 25 January.
On Monday, he was sentenced to four months imprisonment for the online offence but the sentence was suspended for two years.
Neill was also banned from football for three years – the first ban of its kind to be issued under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
According to a statement issued by the Premier League, the order forbids Neill from attending any regulated football match in the UK, which includes Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two and National League fixtures, as well as England home internationals.
The banning order also prevents him from travelling abroad to watch international friendlies, qualification matches and tournaments.
Superintendent Scott Cowie, hate crime lead for Northumbria Police, welcomed the sentence, saying:
Discrimination has absolutely no place in any society, whether out in our communities or online.
I am therefore delighted that the seriousness of Neill’s offence has been reflected with this banning order, the first of its kind to be issued in the UK.
I hope this reinforces our commitment to taking action against anybody who commits a hate crime – it will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to put perpetrators before the courts.
I would like to thank everyone who played their part in this particular case, including the team of officers who worked tirelessly to secure justice as well as our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police, the UK Football Policing Unit and the Premier League.
Brentford also welcomed the sentence, saying “Court appearances set a strong precedent for anyone else who commits hate crimes and it is our hope that sentences increase in severity until this sort of crime is eradicated.”
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