Simon Silwood, who became the first supporter to be jailed in this country for racially abusing West Brom's Romaine Sawyers online, has had his appeals against his conviction and sentence rejected. The verdict at Wolverhampton Crown Court means Silwood will return to prison and serve the same penalty as stipulated in his original trial.
Romaine has worked closely with the police to see justice for the abuse he incurred and actively encouraged other players to report crimes of this nature. Today’s judgement was important not only to Romaine but to every player who receives abuse online.
Real consequences and the threat of conviction is essential to deter abusers and sends a clear message that social media users can be held accountable for their vile behaviour.
The investigation was led by football hate crime officer, PC Stuart Ward, he said: "We don't tolerate any form of racism and this case shows everyone the courts won't either.
"Silwood was rightly convicted for his appalling actions but rather than show any remorse and apologise he launched a futile appeal.
"We're pleased a second Judge has reinforced the initial conviction and sentence and this will hopefully send a warning to others that committing a hate crime is unacceptable... and you face a very real risk of going to jail."
In September, PFA Director of EDI, Simone Pound, gave evidence about the racist abuse of players in front of a Home Affairs Select Committee, alongside former players Lianne Sanderson, Anton Ferdinand and PFA Players' Board member Marvin Sordell. During that discussion, the players detailed the significant impact racist abuse had on their mental health and their families.
After hearing news of today’s decision, Simone said, ‘This is a significant day in the fight to tackle online abuse. We have been striving to instil faith in the reporting process by working with police and CPS to ensure perpetrators are held to account. This decision demonstrates that the UK judicial system can sanction those guilty of abusing professional footballers.
Protecting players will always be the PFA’s number one priority. If you receive any discriminatory abuse, don't hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated online abuse helpline, 0800 368 8484, for private and confidential support and send screenshots and other relevant information to firstname.lastname@example.org.