A 24-year-old man has been barred from entering any football stadium in the United Kingdom after racially abusing Brentford striker Ivan Toney on social media.
Antonio Neill of Blyth, Northumberland, was given a four-month suspended sentence and a three-year football ban at the Newcastle court on Monday.
This is the first decision made under the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act 2022.
The ruling prohibits Neill from attending matches in the top five divisions of English football, as well as England home and away matches.
The 2022 legislation authorised the issuance of banning orders for online hate crimes such as racism.
Social Media abuse against Ivan Toney
In October 2022, Neill sent Toney an abusive message that was claimed to be racist.
Last year, new law was introduced to broaden the reach of banning orders for online hate crimes.
Northumbria Police and the Metropolitan Police initiated a joint operation to find the culprit, who pleaded guilty to sending an offensive message in January.
“Discrimination has absolutely no place in any society, whether out in our communities or online,” said Supt Scott Cowie, hate crime lead for Northumbria Police.
“I hope this reinforces our commitment to taking action against anybody who commits a hate crime – it will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to put perpetrators before the courts.”
Brentford boss Thomas Frank has welcomed the development.
Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to Southampton, who have reported recent online racist abuse suffered by Kyle Walker-Peters to police, Frank said: “I think it’s a very strong message.”
“Personally I don’t think the (suspended punishment) is hard enough. It could be harder because it is a suspended sentence, but it is a good step in the right direction to hopefully show the world there is no room for racist abuse and hopefully it’s a reminder to social media companies they can hopefully do more.”
“Also with the situation with (Kyle) Walker-Peters is very sad. So it’s a constant development area for society.”