London (AFP) – A fan of English Championship side West Brom was Thursday jailed for eight weeks after being found guilty of racially abusing one of the club’s own players.
Simon Silwood posted a message saying Romaine Sawyers should win the “Baboon d’Or” — a sarcastic reference to the Ballon d’Or trophy for the world footballer of the year — after his team’s 5-0 defeat by Manchester City at the Hawthorns on January 26.
Silwood denied the offence, telling police that the message was “stupid not racial”, adding autocorrect had changed the word “buffoon” to “baboon”.
The 50-year-old, who has been banned for life by the club, was convicted last month at Walsall Magistrates’ Court, in central England, after District Judge Briony Clarke ruled he had meant the post to be offensive.
The court heard Sawyers, currently on loan at Stoke City, was left feeling “harassed, alarmed and distressed” after reading it.
Passing sentence on Silwood at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Judge Clarke said: “There is no place for racism or racist abuse online. This clearly in my view crosses the custody threshold.”
Clarke added: “I assess the remorse you have for your actions as very minimal indeed.
“In my view it (the offence) falls into the category of greatest harm. We have to accept it had a wider impact and a substantial impact on Mr Sawyers.”
Earlier this month, another football fan was handed a suspended jail term for posting racist comments on social media, blaming three black players for England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.
Scott McCluskey singled out Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho in an abusive Facebook message after they missed their penalties in a shootout.
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