Fan excluded from stadia over hate crimes

In a legal first for "online hate crimes", a football fan who racially abused a Premier League player has been banned from every ground in the country.


Antonio Neill sent an abusive message to Brentford striker Ivan Toney in October 2022 and Police began an investigation after he shared it on social media. The message, which was treated as a hate crime, was traced to a suspect who was then living in the North Shields area.


24-year-old Neill, of Blyth, Northumberland, admitted sending an offensive message when he appeared at Newcastle magistrates’ court in January.


Northumbria Police said Neill appeared before the same court this month and was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, alongside a three-year football banning order.


The banning order is the first of its kind to be issued under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. This legislation widened the scope for issuing banning orders for online hate crimes linked to football.


Hate crime lead for Northumbria Police, Supt Scott Cowie, said: “Discrimination has absolutely no place in any society, whether out in our communities or online. I am delighted that the seriousness of Neill’s offence has been reflected with this banning order, the first of its kind to be issued in the UK.”