Football fan jailed for racist rant at black England players after Euro final

3 November 2021, 13:19

He was sentenced for his comments about Sancho (L), Rashford (C) and Saka (R).
He was sentenced for his comments about Sancho (L), Rashford (C) and Saka (R). Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A football fan who livestreamed a racist attack at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka after they missed penalties during the EURO final against Italy has been sentenced to time behind bars.

Jonathon Best, a 52-year-old forklift driver from Feltham, west London, was caught out after a colleague and Facebook friend reported the 18-second clip to both Facebook and the police after he refused to take it down.

Facebook took the clip down three days later.

In the Facebook video, Best hurled racist abuse at the three young black players - Rashford, Sancho and Saka - who all missed their penalty kicks during England's tense final shootout against Italy.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Best "used social media to publicly vilify these three young men".

It added that there is "absolutely no room in the game, nor elsewhere, for racism".

"The CPS is committed to bringing perpetrators of hate crime to justice where there is the evidence to do so," it said.

Read more: Football fan avoids jail after being racist online about black England players

Read more: FA 'appalled' as England stars suffer racist online abuse after Italy loss

Best was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison at Willesden Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

He had previously pleaded guilty to sending by public communication network a grossly offensive or indecent or obscene or menacing message or matter.

Elaine Cousins, from the CPS, said: "While the majority of the nation took great pride in the Three Lions reaching their first international final in more than 50 years, Jonathon Best took to Facebook to Livestream a barrage of racist abuse at the three players who missed penalties during the game.

"He used social media to publicly vilify these three young men who tried to score for England. When approached by a Facebook friend asking him to remove the grossly offensive content, Best replied: 'It's my profile, I can do what I want'."

She added: "I would like to thank the individual who reported this appalling hate crime and I hope this prosecution goes some way in educating and deterring people from posting hate on social media."

The CPS will be working with the police, player bodies and organisations, to explain what evidence is needed to pass its legal tests to authorise charges in hate crime cases.

Elizabeth Jenkins of the CPS said: "Hate crimes such as these have a massive impact on players and their mental health.

"The CPS takes this kind of offending very seriously and this case shows that where offensive content is reported to the police we can successfully bring offenders to justice."