Football fan is convicted of hurling racist abuse at Rio Ferdinand at Wolves’ first Premier League match after fans were allowed back following Covid
A football fan has been convicted of hurling racist abuse at Rio Ferdinand at Wolves’ first Premier League match after supporters were allowed back into stadiums following the pandemic.
Jamie Arnold, 33, hurled racist remarks and hand gestures at the ex-England defender, who was working as a pundit for BT Sport during the match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and his former club Manchester United on May 23 2021.
The Wolves fan had denied a racially aggravated public order offence but was unanimously convicted today following a two-day trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court and will be sentenced on December 8, West Midlands Police said.
Pc Stuart Ward, the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit for West Midlands Police, said: ‘Abusing anyone for the colour of their skin is disgusting and can never, ever be condoned.
‘Arnold is old enough to know such appalling behaviour is inexcusable and certainly won’t be tolerated.
Jamie Arnold (pictured outside Walsall Magistrates’ Court in November 2021) has been convicted or hurling racist abuse at Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand (pictured leaving Wolverhampton Crown Court in August 2021) was working as a pundit for BT Sport during the match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and his former club Manchester United on May 23 2021
‘I know from personal experience how being a victim of racism hurts while offenders risk their own aspirations through getting a criminal record.
‘I would like to thank Rio for his assistance in this investigation.
‘Through his support, we’ve ensured a man has this conviction to his name.’
Arnold, of Stone, Staffordshire, was arrested at the scene following the offence, which occurred during the first game played at Molineux with fans present since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ferdinand celebrated when Man United scored in their 2-1 win over Wolves and Arnold reacted by directing a racist gesture towards the pundit which was followed by the use of a racist remark.
The Crown Prosecution Service said he was caught making racist gestures on CCTV and was seen by several witnesses in the stands.
Ferdinand told a previous trial that he did not see the gestures made by Arnold, but had noted one fan’s ‘more aggressive body language’.
Arnold was previously banned from games for three years after being found guilty of homophobic abuse and making gestures which mimicked disability during the same game.
He was also ordered to pay almost £900 in fines and court costs, West Midlands Police said. Arnold faces a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Arnold (pictured) was also ordered to pay almost £900 in fines and court costs, West Midlands Police said
Former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand (right) during the Premier League match at Molineux between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United in May 2021
A spokesman for campaign organisation Kick It Out said: ‘Kick It Out welcomes the guilty verdict handed to Arnold today.
‘It is imperative that perpetrators of discriminatory abuse are held to account for their actions and we hope this result sends a strong statement that racism has no place in our society.
‘We commend the CPS and West Midlands Police for their work securing justice in this case and would urge authorities across the country to take similar incidents of discriminatory abuse just as seriously.
‘We continue to work with partners across football to tackle discriminatory abuse as it happens and to ensure that victims receive the support they need.
‘We would encourage anyone who witnesses discrimination of any sort in future to report it directly to us at Kick It Out.’
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