A Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter was convicted yesterday of “using racially aggravated threatening or abusive behaviour” that targeted Tammy Abraham during September’s 5-2 win for Chelsea at Molineux.
The 40-year-old man was found guilty of a “deliberately racially-aggravated gesture” aimed at the young striker after he scored Chelsea’s fourth goal, as well as a similar charge of (non-racially aggravated) “threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress” when he was also caught spitting on the Chelsea fans who were sitting in the tier below him.
The man was ejected by stewards from the game, and while he denied both charges in court, claiming that he was gesturing positively at the Wolves players instead, and having a “bad sneeze”, the Magistrates sentenced him to a four-year football banning order and a total fine of £1450 on the strength of two eye-witness testimonies from fellow Wolves fans, who corroborated CCTV evidence and eye-witness accounts at the stadium as well.
“We have heard from two Crown prosecution witnesses who had a clear view of you. Both witnesses were adamant as to their recollection.
”The court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that in a heightened state of agitation the defendant spat with force, landing on fellow Wolves supporters.
”The court is further satisfied you made a deliberately racially-aggravated gesture in response to Tammy Abraham’s celebration... in what has been described as a chimp motion.”
-Arthur Wheldon, Chairman of the Bench; source: Sky
While the four-year banning order sounds a bit weak — what are we hoping to gain by not banning him for life? — it does seem to apply to all football games, not just the ones at Molineux.
That would be in line with the Premier League’s commitment at Thursday’s Shareholders’ Meeting to tougher and wider-ranging punishments for discriminatory, abusive, hateful, or violent behaviour from fans.
“Following recent events, the 20 clubs committed to introducing a League-wide ban for anyone banned by their club for discriminatory, abusive or violent acts.
”Unacceptable conduct towards players, fans, club employees or referees will not be tolerated by the Premier League or its clubs”.
-Premier League statement; source: Sky
A step in the right direction, even if the road ahead is still long and arduous.