Football fan spared jail after posting racist comments online at Euro 2020

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Scott McCluskey - BBC
Scott McCluskey - BBC

A football fan who posted racist comments on social media blaming black England players for losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 final has escaped a custodial sentence.

Scott McCluskey, 43, posted a message on Facebook shortly after England’s defeat referring to players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho as “monkeys”.

Appearing at Warrington Magistrates Court, McClusky from Runcorn, admitted a single charge of sending an offensive or abusive message by a public communication network.

He sat in the dock, bent double, head in his hands, as he was given a 14-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He was also handed a 30-day rehabilitation order to work on racism and diversity, directed by the Probation Service.

Dave Robb, defending, said McCluskey, had no previous convictions but had now lost his good character.

Asking for a suspended sentence, Mr Robb added: “As a consequence of one stupid mistake, this posting, he bitterly regrets it. It may have been influenced by cannabis, that’s no excuse.

“He can’t say sorry enough. He knows he’s done wrong.”

As Nicholas Sanders, the District Judge, passed sentence, the defendant, whose partner is also his carer, told him: “All I can say is I’m deeply ashamed.”

Judge Sanders said: “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.

“This is a foul offence which has far-reaching consequences not only for you but the general public.”

Jo Lazzari, the senior district crown prosecutor of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said: “While millions of us watched the England team with pride as they reached the final of the Euro 2020 tournament, Scott McCluskey took to his Facebook account and posted vile racist comments about the players who had missed penalties.”

Mark Roberts, the chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for football policing, added: “McCluskey is the first person in the UK to be convicted in relation to the racist abuse posted after the Euro 2020 final and I hope that his conviction acts as a warning to others.”

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