(Reuters) – A British teenager has been sentenced to six weeks in prison after racially abusing England’s Marcus Rashford on Twitter after last year’s European Championship final, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Wednesday.
Justin Lee Price, 19, from Worcester, previously admitted to sending a grossly offensive message by public communication network at a hearing at Worcester Magistrates Court on March 17.
Price was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday. He initially tried to avoid detection by changing his Twitter username after the post was reported, the CPS said.
The teenager denied the offence in the first police interview following his arrest but admitted to posting the tweet when questioned for a second time.
“Price targeted a footballer based on the colour of his skin and his action was clearly racist and a hate crime,” Mark Johnson, a senior crown prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, said in a statement.
“Those who racially abuse footballers ruin the game for all. I hope this case sends out the message that we will not tolerate racism, and offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Rashford and his England team mates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted with online abuse after missing their penalties in the shootout against Italy in July.
Douglas Mackay, the CPS sports lead prosecutor, said hate crimes relating to sporting events have been on the rise in recent years.
“The UK Football Policing Unit’s internal mid-season report has shown a significant rise in football-related criminality compared to pre-pandemic levels,” he added.
“There is no place for hate in football, and hate crimes such as this have significant impact on victims.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)