The man who sent a racist message to Brentford star Ivan Toney on Instagram won’t be able to attend any football matches in England for three years in a landmark ruling by police. This includes all levels of regulated football in the United Kingdom – Premier League, Championship, League One, etc. — and all England home international matches.
He also received a four-month jail sentence suspended for two years for his transgressions.
Antonio Neill, 24, pleaded guilty on Jan. 25 to sending the message which Toney shared on social media on Oct. 14 following a 2-0 win over Brighton. Toney scored both goals in that match. Police investigated the claim soon after and Neill later apologized for his actions in front of a judge. Neill is also forbidden from traveling abroad to watch English international friendlies, qualification matches and tournaments.
This is the first major sentencing under the relatively new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, which gives the police more authority over a broad range of public safety-related situations such as protests and child abuse.
“Brentford FC is pleased to see the Antonio Neill case resolved and that Northumbria Police pursued this to a conclusion,” the club said in a statement Tuesday. “Court appearances set a strong precedent for anyone else who commits hate crimes and it is our hope that sentences increase in severity until this sort of crime is eradicated.
“Ivan Toney has been subject to sickening racist abuse on a regular basis, and we want to see tough action taken against anyone found guilty of such abuse. The club firmly believes there is no place for racial abuse in football and we continue to support and implement a zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory behaviour of any kind.”
Toney, 26, ranks third in the English Premier League with 15 goals this season behind Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (28) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (20).
He has, however, been the subject of a betting investigation by the FA — England’s football governing body. Toney was charged with more than 200 violations dating back to 2017. He’s since admitted to gambling, though has contested he’ll face the reported six-month ban.
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