A teenager has been jailed for six weeks for racially abusing Marcus Rashford following England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final.
Justin Lee Price, 19, from Worcester, pleaded guilty at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court to “one count of sending a grossly offensive message by public communication network”.
Price directed a slur at the 24-year-old Manchester United striker after he missed a penalty in England’s shoot-out heartache against Italy at Wembley last summer.
Price’s solicitor said he was “ashamed and embarrassed” by his actions, but that living with a single-parent mother and only working two days a week left him with a lot of time on his hands.
Racist abuse of footballers ‘unacceptable’
The teenager initially denied the charges during a police interview, and he even changed his name on Twitter to avoid detection, however he later admitted posting the tweet when he was questioned by officers a second time.
His jail time was reduced as he pleaded guilty.
A Kick It Out spokesperson told Sky News: “Kick It Out welcomes the sentence handed to Justin Lee Price. It is unacceptable that footballers continue to endure racist hate and abuse online, as well as in stadiums.
“However, it is reassuring to see the individuals responsible being suitably punished for their actions, and upcoming online safety legislation should facilitate that further.
“If we are to ensure that this is a step towards guaranteeing consequences for racism and discriminatory abuse in football, we hope the relevant authorities are inclined to take cases of a similar nature just as seriously in future.”
In September 2021, another man was sentenced for posting racist and insulting comments on his Facebook page about Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after they missed penalties in the shoot-out which led to Italy’s win.
The abuse of the youngsters sparked widespread condemnation and led to an outpouring of support for the trio.
CPS working with police and football bodies to secure prosecutions
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.”
The CPS is currently working with the police, clubs, player bodies and organisations, like the Premier League and the Football Association, to explain what evidence is required to charge racial abusers.
They hope this will help clubs and the leagues to protect their players by ensuring “we have all the evidence we need to build the strongest case possible”.