A football fan who racially abused Forest Green’s Jordan Garrick has been jailed for nine months.
Ryan Ferguson, 24, of Liverpool, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment, failing to comply with a football banning order and resisting a police constable at Rovers’ League One clash with Fleetwood in April last year.
Douglas Mackay, the Crown Prosecution Service Sports National lead prosecutor, said: “Ferguson’s actions were vile and something that none of us should ever experience at a football match – whether that be fans, staff, police or indeed the players themselves.
“The sentence that has been passed today should serve as a wake-up call to any fans who think it might be acceptable to break the law during matches.”
The Black Footballers Partnership, the organisation set up to be a strategic voice and support for Black footballers, said the sentence shows the game needs to do better to support Black players.
“Black excellence on the pitch has driven up participation numbers and lessened the amount of overtly racist chanting on the terraces, so that events like those discussed today stand out more,” said Delroy Corinaldi, the BFP executive director.
“However, while black excellence on the pitch pushes the overt racists to the margins, the ignorance it personifies can only be excised when black footballers become visible as black managers, coaches, board members and owners.
“It ends when the clubs and their representative bodies properly tackle the institutional barriers to black success off the pitch.”
A PFA spokesperson added: “It’s absolutely vital that members see that there will be serious consequences for those who racially abuse players.
“The start of this process is often a member making the decision to tell the officials or to stop a game so that they can report an incident. That takes bravery.
“If players are the ones who are asked to start that process, they have to have confidence that the authorities with the power to do so are going to then finish it.”