James Robinson, Daily Mail, March 30, 2022
A teenager has been jailed for racially abusing Marcus Rashford on Twitter after the Euro 2020 final.
Justin Lee Price, 19, of Worcester, directed a slur at the 24-year-old Manchester United striker after he missed a penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat against Italy last summer.
The tweet, posted on July 11, and which included a link to Rashford’s account, read: ‘@SzzOGz @MarcusRashford YOU F****** STUPID N***** MISSING A FREE PEN MY DEAD NAN COULD HAVE SCORED THAT’.
Price previously admitted one count of sending a grossly offensive message by public communication network at a hearing at Worcester Magistrates’ Court on March 17.
He was sentenced to six weeks in prison on Wednesday at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court in Worcester.
Price initially tried to avoid detection by changing his Twitter username after the post was reported, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
The teenager then denied the offence in his first police interview following his arrest, but later admitted posting the tweet when he was questioned by officers a second time.
Mark Johnson, senior Crown prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, said: ‘Price targeted a footballer based on the colour of his skin and his action was clearly racist and a hate crime.
‘Those who racially abuse footballers ruin the game for all.
‘I hope this case sends out the message that we will not tolerate racism and offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.’
Douglas Mackay, the CPS sports lead prosecutor, said hate crimes relating to football have risen significantly over recent years.
‘The UK Football Policing Unit’s internal mid-season report has shown a significant rise in football-related criminality compared to pre-pandemic levels.
‘At the CPS, we play a crucial role in tackling these crimes and making our national sport inclusive and safe to watch.
‘There is no place for hate in football and hate crimes such as this has significant impact on victims.’
A number of arrests were made in the UK following racist abuse aimed at Rashford and fellow England stars Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
They included Scott McCluskey, 43, of Runcorn, who posted racist and insulting comments about the three stars.
At Warrington Magistrates’ Court in September last year, McCluskey pleaded guilty to a charge of Sending by a Public Communication Network an offensive message.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders sentenced him to 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
Jonathon Best, 52, a forklift driver who live streamed himself on Facebook using racial abuse when speaking about the three players in the wake of the match, was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in November.
Father-of-three Bradford Pretty, 50, also embarked on a drunken tirade against the three England players in the wake of the Euro 2020 final defeat.
He posted what the court heard was an ‘abhorrent’ video on Facebook of him racially abusing Rashford, Sancho and Saka following the loss.
Pretty appeared at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in October last year and admitted sending a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.
He was sentenced to 50 days in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
The racist abuse in the aftermath of the Euro 2020 final defeat saw England labelled a ‘racist country’ with an ‘ingrained culture of intolerance’.
However a BBC investigation later revealed that the vast majority of those who sent racist abuse were not from the UK.
Most were non-Britons living abroad, many with far-right sympathies, including trolls in Russia, across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
One of the culprits, a man 2,000 miles from Britain in Saudi Arabia with no links to the UK, admitted he had sent Saka a number of monkey emojis while watching the match with Italy.
Confronted by the BBC he said: ‘I’m sorry for sending the abuse, I was caught up in the moment watching the game with friends.
‘It was a big mistake because I was angry and I didn’t know what he would feel when he saw the monkeys. I really want to apologise to Saka, it was a mistake and I won’t do it again to him or any black player.’
He also added that he was only suspended by Instagram for 24 hours, but believes he should have been banned ‘forever’ because his post was ‘really racist’.
Researchers, aided by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, meanwhile found 79 of 105 accounts flagged were still not deleted or suspended six weeks later.