A man who sent racist abuse to Brentford striker Ivan Toney has been banned from every stadium in the United Kingdom for three years.
Toney revealed in October he had received the abusive message on Instagram, posting screenshots and saying it made him feel “angry”, as Brentford called for police to act.
It has led to 24-year-old Antonio Neill, from Blyth in Northumberland, being handed a four-month sentence suspended for two years, plus the football banning order.
Northumbria Police said the latter sanction, handed down on Monday, was the first such order of its kind issued under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
Neill pleaded guilty in January to sending an offensive message after officers pursued him over what they considered a hate crime, and he has now been banned from attending any regulated football game in the UK, and from travelling abroad to watch games.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for football policing, said: “This result makes it clear that there are real consequences for those people who think they can hide behind a keyboard to post hateful comments.”
He added: “I would urge others who are victims of online hate to come forward and report it to police so it can be investigated and action can be taken.”
Toney sits third on this season’s list of Premier League top scorers, with 15 goals in a prolific campaign for the Bees.
A man who abused Ivan Toney on social media has been banned from every stadium in the country in a landmark ruling
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) March 14, 2023
Brentford said they were “pleased” to see the case conclude, adding: “Court appearances set a strong precedent for anyone else who commits hate crimes and it is our hope that sentences increase in severity until this sort of crime is eradicated.
“Ivan Toney has been subject to sickening racist abuse on a regular basis, and we want to see tough action taken against anyone found guilty of such abuse.”
The club appealed at the time of Toney being sent the message for social media bosses to take action, repeating that message on Tuesday by stating: “All authorities have their role to play in this and we, again, call upon the social media companies to make their platforms safe for all participants and to remove all hateful content.”
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