Romaine Sawyers: West Brom fan who abused racially sentenced midfielder to eight weeks in prison | Football news

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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 on the sentence, District Judge Briony Clarke said: “This, Mr. Silwood, is a serious offense. There is no room for racism or racist abuse online. To my notice, this clearly exceeds the custody threshold.

“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.

Picture:
Sawyers, who is currently on loan at Stoke, suffered online abuse following West Brom’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City in January

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 PSC 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. Where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, we will prosecute such cases. and ask for a harsher sentence.

“Hate crimes like 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 material is reported to the police, we can translate the offenses. successful legal offenders. “

Sawyers: I hope this will have a deterrent effect

Reacting to the conviction against Silwood, Sawyers called on all other professional gamers to report any incidents of racist abuse they witness online.

The 29-year-old also wants social media companies to do more and has said he will donate his £ 500 compensation to charity.

He said: “I welcome the custodial sentence handed down today against Simon Silwood and now focus on putting this incident behind me.

“Racist abuse of anyone under any circumstances is totally unacceptable, and I hope this case will have a chilling effect on others.

“This is an incident that has affected me deeply, but I would like to encourage other players to report any racial abuse to the police. We must together stay strong in order to rid the game, and society at large, of this behavior. hideous.

“It is widely accepted that social media companies need to do more to stop the posting of racism on their platforms. I again urge them to take the necessary steps to prevent anyone from receiving the abuse I have suffered.

“I would like to thank PC Stuart Ward and Ian Skidmore of West Bromwich Albion for their tireless support and professionalism during what has been personally difficult eight months for me.

“I would also like to applaud the Baggies fan who bravely stepped forward to report what he saw. It is important that we all remain vigilant in the fight against racism, so please, if you are aware racism, it is essential that you report it.

“It is important for me to turn this negative experience into something positive and I will therefore donate the £ 500 awarded to me in compensation to a local charity in the West Midlands.”

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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 pressured social media companies to do more to protect 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 that 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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For more information, please visit: www.skysports.com/againstonlinehate

If you see a response to Air sports messages and / or content containing expression of hatred based on race, sex, color, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class, please copy the URL of the hate message and capture it and email us here.

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That’s the message from Sky Sports presenters and reporters, who have come together to support a new campaign to raise awareness of online hate and abuse on social media.

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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 .


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