Wolves fan found guilty of racially abusing Rio Ferdinand during clash with Manchester United in 2021… as the former defender tells the court he was left feeling ‘sick’ and ‘distressed’ after hearing what happened
- Jamie Arnold hurled racist remarks and hand gestures at Rio Ferdinand
- It took place during a match involving Wolves and Manchester United in 2021
- Arnold was unanimously convicted and will be sentenced on December 8
A football fan has been convicted of racially abusing Rio Ferdinand at a Premier League match.
Jamie Arnold hurled racist remarks and hand gestures at the former England defender, who was working as a pundit for BT Sport during the match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United on May 23, 2021.
It was the first match back at the Molineux since Covid restrictions were lifted to allow fans back inside football stadiums.
The 33-year-old had denied a racially aggravated public order offence but was unanimously convicted on Wednesday following a two-day trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court and will be sentenced on December 8, West Midlands Police said.
As reported by the Mirror, Ferdinand told the court: ‘I felt sick if I’m honest. First time I’d gone back into a stadium in a long time, it’s not what you expect. I’ve had this before when growing up, I don’t expect it in football.”
Football fan Jamie Arnold was convicted of racially abusing Man United legend Rio Ferdinand
It took place during Manchester United’s Premier League fixture with Wolves in May 2021
Ferdinand was asked whether the racist abuse hurt him. He replied: ‘Yes, it throws you. I was distressed and had to go on live TV. I wasn’t expecting to have to do that. It’s not what I want to do, my kids had to watch that.’
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.
‘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.
The Crown Prosecution Service said he was caught making racist gestures on CCTV and was seen by several witnesses in the stands.
Ferdinand told the court that he felt ‘sick’ and ‘distressed’ after hearing what had happened
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.
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.
Arnold denied a racially aggravated public order offence but was unanimously convicted on Wednesday
‘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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