Man, 49, charged with racially abusing Premier League footballer

13 April 2021, 11:43 | Updated: 14 April 2021, 05:08

West Brom's Romaine Sawyers was the alleged victim of racial abuse online
West Brom's Romaine Sawyers was the alleged victim of racial abuse online. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A 49-year-old man has been charged with racially abusing Premier League footballer Romaine Sawyers online.

Simon Silwood has been accused of sending an offensive message to the West Bromwich Albion midfielder via social media in January, West Midlands Police (WMP) said.

His charge comes following an investigation conducted by Pc Stuart Ward, the UK's first dedicated hate crime officer within a football policing unit.

The suspect, from Kingswinford, near Dudley, has been charged under the Communications Act.

He is due to appear at Dudley Magistrates' Court on 29 April, WMP said.

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Speaking after the incident earlier this year, West Brom manager Sam Allardyce offered his support to the player and asked what could be done to prevent online abuse.

"It leaves a big question about whether reporting it is enough," he said.

"Romaine - or any black person across the country - should not have to be open to any type of abuse on social media.

"He is extremely upset, as anybody would be. More than Romaine have suffered throughout football in the last few days.

"Social media sites need to act in a more responsible way. We have to do our best to cut this out."

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That same month, Prince William - who is president of the Football Association - condemned the rising online abuse being directed at black footballers.

"Racist abuse - whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media - is despicable and it must stop now," he said in a string of tweets.

"We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions.

"That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.

"I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms."

His comments came after a number of black footballers were subjected to racial abuse earlier that week, including West Brom's Swayers, Chelsea defender Reece James and Manchester United trio Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.