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Man sentenced for racially abusing footballer

The scales of justice and the words

A spectator has been banned from attending football matches after racially abusing a player.

Gareth Ralph, from Southville, received a three-year football banning order (FBO) after being found guilty of a racially-aggravated public order offence.

The 68-year-old racially abused an opposition player when Bristol City hosted Huddersfield Town at Ashton Gate on 18 December 2021. The matter was reported by people within the ground who heard what Ralph said.

He was sentenced at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 18 May and the banning order will prevent him from attending any UK football match for the duration of the three years. Recipients of FBOs must also adhere to other conditions, including surrendering their passport for the duration of senior international football tournaments.

Ralph was also fined £300, must pay £100 compensation and ordered to pay £201 in costs and victim surcharge.

PC Tom Williams said: “This kind of behaviour has no place within football or wider society. When incidents are reported, they will be thoroughly investigated and we will seek football banning orders for offenders.

“The abuse was fortunately not heard by the player himself, but this case highlights the importance of supporters reporting such incidents to the authorities if they do encounter any form of hate abuse. We are hugely grateful to those who reported this incident to us so we could get justice in this case.

“It’s always preferable for matters to be reported at the time to stewards in the ground or to the police. Alternatively the anonymous phone line advertised by clubs can be used as this allows us to act on the incident immediately and increases the likelihood of us being able to identify those responsible.

“We will continue to work with all football clubs, players, supporters groups, Kick It Out and the Players Football Association to tackle this kind of deplorable and inexcusable behaviour.”