On Wednesday, a football fan in the United Kingdom was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence for making racist messages on social media, blaming three black players for England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.
Scott McCluskey, 43, from Runcorn, northwest England, singled out Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho in an abusive Facebook message after they missed their penalties in a shootout.
He admitted a single charge at Warrington Magistrates Court of sending an offensive or abusive message by a public communication network and said he was “deeply ashamed” of his actions.
He was handed a 14-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered 30 days of rehabilitation work on racism and diversity overseen by the Probation Service.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders told McCluskey: “This sort of online abuse seems to have gained some sort of traction in our society and it is entirely unacceptable.
“It is something which has the capability to cause real harm not just to individuals such as the three footballers concerned but to wider society as a whole.”
McCluskey’s case came as former footballer Anton Ferdinand called on social media companies to act immediately to end racial abuse, warning that online hate could even be fatal.
The ex-West Ham defender, 36, told British lawmakers scrutinizing a government plan to tighten online safety laws of the addictive nature of social media.
That creates a “mental health issue of not being able to escape it”, he said in evidence to a parliamentary committee.
“My worry is, what are the social media companies waiting for? Are they waiting for a high-profile footballer to kill themselves, or a member of their family to commit suicide?”
“Is that what they’re waiting for? Because if they’re waiting for that, it’s too late,” he added, accusing companies of talking a good game but failing to act.