A man has been sentenced after he was found guilty of posting racist abuse on social media following the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy last summer.
Hugh Laidlaw, a 50-year-old from Reading, posted an offensive image on Facebook directed at Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho after the trio missed penalties during the final shootout.
He was found guilty of sending an offensive message by a public communication network, and given an eight-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay a fine of £1000, costs of £775 and a surcharge of £128.
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The post, made in the Metal Detecting UK Facebook page, was reported by members of the group.
Laidlaw originally claimed he had accidentally shared the post after drinking before going on to claim he was hacked.
“Hugh Laidlaw’s hateful and racist post was a direct attack on England’s players, and those who it was shared with were left disgusted and upset,” said Senior Crown Prosecutor Benjamin May.
“Racist abuse won’t be tolerated and, as this case has shown, where offensive content is reported to the police and our legal tests are met, we can successfully bring offenders to justice.”
Crown Prosecution Service lead prosecutor Douglas Mackay said: “Over recent years and months, hate crimes relating to sporting events have been on the rise.”
A FIFpro report this year revealed that more than half of the players to feature in the Euro 2020 and AFCON finals were subjected to racist abuse on the night of the respective finals.
Homophobic abuse was most prevalent, followed by racist abuse.
FIFA and FIFPRO have committed to launching an in-tournament moderation service ahead of this winter’s World Cup “that will scan recognised hate speech terms published to identified social media accounts, and once detected, prevent that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.”
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