Football fan admits racially abusing Rio Ferdinand

A football fan has admitted to racially abusing former England defender Rio Ferdinand after the Euro 2020 final.

Robert Whippe, 54, pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates’ Court to two counts of sending a grossly offensive message to Mr Ferdinand about his Wembley final comment, said the Crown Prosecution Service.

After England lost to Italy in a penalty shootout, Whippe used ‘racist and derogatory emojis’ to describe Mr Ferdinand’s commentary on the game.

When questioned by Hertfordshire Police, Whippe admitted posting the tweets, but initially denied any racist intent.

Following Friday’s hearing, CPS Senior Prosecutor for CPS Thames and Chiltern Matthew Gauntlett said: “Whippe committed a racist attack on Rio Ferdinand as he gave his expert opinion and comments on the Euro 2020 final.

“It was completely unwarranted and part of a disease in football that the CPS is playing its part in eradicating.

“I would like to thank Rio Ferdinand for his cooperation and support for this lawsuit in what must have been a difficult time for him.”

CPS West Midlands Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Douglas Mackay added: “Hate crime has no place in society, let alone in sport. Recently, we have seen an increase in reports of racist abuse online and in stadiums at football matches and we are determined to play our part in stopping it.

Whippe will be sentenced in the same court on March 1.

The CPS said it is currently working with football clubs, players’ organizations and the police to explain how these crimes are prosecuted and what information is needed to cross the threshold for charges.

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