Rio Ferdinand: Football fan pleads guilty to online racist abuse against former England international | Soccer News

A man who racially abused Rio Ferdinand the day after the Euro 2020 final on Twitter has pleaded guilty to the offences.

Robert Whippe, 54, has pleaded guilty to two counts of sending a grossly offensive message to Ferdinand following England’s penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in July 2021.

Whippe posted opinions on the former England and Manchester United defender’s comment on the final on Twitter and used derogatory racist emojis.

Whippe was questioned by police on bail where he admitted to posting two tweets but denied any racial intent and claimed the emojis were randomly selected.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) review of the case and Hertfordshire Police investigation sought to prove that the use of these emojis was most often linked to anti-black racism.

Matthew Gauntlett of the CPS thanked Ferdinand for his cooperation in the investigation after the “totally unwarranted attack”.

“Whippe made a racist attack on Rio Ferdinand as he gave his expert opinion and commentated on the Euro 2020 final,” Gauntlett said.

“It was totally unwarranted and part of a disease of football that the CPS is playing its part to eradicate.

“I would like to thank Rio Ferdinand for his cooperation and support for this lawsuit in what must have been a difficult time for him.”

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Rio Ferdinand told a parliamentary select committee for the Online Safety Bill that a rise in online abuse was having a ripple effect in stadiums and more needed to be done to combat it.

Work continues between the CPS, the police, clubs, player associations and organisations, such as the Premier League, EFL and FA, to explain how these crimes are prosecuted and what information is needed to cross the threshold of indictment in order to build strong cases.

“Hate crimes have no place in society, let alone in sport,” added CPS’s Douglas Mackay. “Recently, we have seen an increase in reports of racist abuse online and in stadiums at football matches and we are determined to play our part in stopping it.

“If you see, read or hear of offensive racist and homophobic language, please report it to the police who will investigate. And if our legal tests of sufficient evidence and public interest are met, we will seek justice by prosecuting these horrible actions.”

Hate won’t win

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The Premier League has released a video to reinforce the message that there is no room for racist abuse and that fans can play a key role in the fight against discrimination.

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Kick It Out is football’s organization for equality and inclusion – working across the football, education and community sectors to tackle discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change .

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