Suspended sentence for man who racially abused former footballer
A man who racially abused former footaller Rio Ferdinand on Twitter after the Euro 2020 final has been handed a suspended sentenced.
Robert Whippe, 54, pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates’ Court to two counts of sending a grossly offensive message following England’s defeat in July last year. After losing the penalty shoot-out to Italy, Whippe took to Twitter to post his views about Rio Ferdinand’s commentary of the match using racist, derogatory emojis. Whippe was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months.
Whippe was interviewed by the police under caution and admitted posting the two tweets but denied any racist intent and claimed the emojis were chosen at random.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) review of the case and Hertfordshire Constabulary investigation sought to prove that the use of these emojis is most commonly connected with racism against black people.
Matthew Gauntlett of the CPS said: “Whippe committed a racist attack on Rio Ferdinand as he was giving his expert opinion and commentary on the Euro 2020 final. It was completely unwarranted and part of a disease in football that the CPS is playing its part to eradicate. I would like to thank Rio Ferdinand for his cooperation and support for this prosecution in what must have been a distressing time for him.”
Douglas Mackay of the CPS said: “Hate crime has no place within society let alone sport. Recently we have seen an increase of reports in racist abuse online and in stadiums in football matches and we are determined to play our part in cutting this out.”