The first ever jailing for racist abuse on a footballer (It’s a good start)

BUKAYO SAKA after his abuse after missing his penalty at the Euros: “My reaction post-match said it all – I was hurting so much and I felt like I’d let you all and my England family down. For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent me heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well, I am so thankful.

“To the social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: I don’t want any child or adult to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus and Jadon have received. I knew instantly the kind of hate I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

“There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these to the police and driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.”

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The first buffoon goes to jail for racist abuse on social media by Dan Smith

The UK Justice system is patting itself on the back this morning after a first ever prison sentence was ordered for online racial abuse.

It’s a historic moment in Britain that goes beyond Football, as it educates people that you can be held accountable for what you type while cowering behind your computer screen or phone.

I wanted to share this story as for me it is so much more powerful than the public watching players take a knee.

I watched a documentary the other day of Eric Cantona and Les Ferdinand taking part in an anti-racism advert.

As Ferdinand brilliantly said, that was 1996 when he made a gesture, here we are 25 years later doing the same. That’s why he (and myself) are against the pre match ritual. I want action.

The next generation will learn a lot more by seeing that you can go to jail for online abuse, than they will by seeing their club tick a PR box by taking a knee.

That’s who we are educating, that next generation.

Simon Silwood, jailed for 8 weeks for abusing West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers. is 50 years old and beyond rehabilitation. When sentenced, he acted like the victim, in tears as his wife screamed from the dock,’ this is disgusting, he’s an innocent man’.

That’s grown adults not realising why in 2021 why calling a Black Caribbean a ‘Baboon’ is offensive.

Zero remorse, blaming his Facebook post as a misspelling. Not sure how many of you have accidently abused someone because of auto correct? Never happened to me.

What the guilty party was expecting was being able to write whatever he wanted on social media, wake up the next morning and carry on with his week, with zero thought for how the recipient felt.

To be fair that’s what normally happens. That’s what society has taught him.

I don’t know how much he pays his defence team, but they failed to see the irony that during mitigation, they wanted a judge to sympathise that Mr Silwood has been receiving trolling since his conviction.

Just a small taste of what he thought a 29-year-old footballer should have to tolerate.

He probably thought because he was a footballer that made it okay to act how he wanted?

He can’t be helped but we can teach young people in this country by having conversations and debate.

If one young person thinks twice about discriminating someone online because they see what has happened to Mr Silwood, then that’s progress.

Yet it remains a small step.

An 8-week sentence means only one month will be spent behind bars. The other half will be on licence along with a 500 pound fine.

That’s not enough, but why I am not a judge? A judge is paid to take emotion out of his verdict and refer to the laws that exist.

My only hope is that this will cost him work and stain his reputation.

There are still individuals found guilty of similar offences who are avoiding jail time.

I would have zero tolerance. Anyone found guilty of racial abuse should get years in prison to make it clear we are a country who will not tolerate racial hatred.

That’s legislation we need our MPs to push for.

To be fair we needed to see that if you act like this online, the police will take it seriously and prosecute.

Yet this is a step forward. A small step. But at least a step in the right direction.

Be kind in the comments

Dan Smith

The West Brom player involved Romaine Sawyers welcomed Silwood’s punishment. He said: ‘Racial abuse towards anyone, in any circumstance, is totally unacceptable and I hope this case will serve as a deterrent to others.

‘This is an incident that has affected me deeply, but I would like to encourage fellow players to report all racial abuse to the police. We must together stand strong in order to rid the game and wider society of this hideous behaviour.

‘It is widely accepted that social media companies must do more to stop the publication of racism on their platforms. I again urge them to take the necessary action required to prevent anyone from receiving the abuse I experienced.’


  1. Dan, agree 100%…any form of abusive behaviour is abhorrent.
    At the spuds game on Sunday, a section of fans ar the clock end were singing :
    “Harry Kane he spits when he speaks, spits when he speaks” etc etc

    While I welcome this morons prison sentence, how on earth do we tackle the similar abuse Kane received at our great club?

    1. yeah was in Clock end and heard it
      Think we simply have to educate that next generation that it’s not okay to act like you want at a football match
      We do that by doing this mate …conversation and debate

    1. GAI, if that was aimed at me….I’m 76 and wouldn’t dream of singing that kind of abuse.
      Daniel, is talking enough though?
      The talking has been going on since time began and yet you and I both heard it AND, sad to say, all age groups and both male and female were involved.
      I haven’t got an answer by the way!!!

      1. my hope is that there are so many platforms these days where youngsters can read this kind of stuff that we educate
        Things go in cycles . So what was offensive to my nans generation isn’t as taboo to mine
        Im sure when my children are 30 they won’t believe that we ate meat or something like that

        hopefully length of sentences will increase as years go by ?

      2. I’m sure you have befriended many people from various identity groups and been to many countries, Ken

        The close-minded ones usually just want to mingle with people from their own identity groups and look down on the others

  2. Sadly many people are beyond being educated on racism or any other types of discrimination,if it takes jail sentences to stop abuse on social media so be it!I have to say I’m disappointed that only a handful of players have decided to come off it,when TH14 announced his decision to do so,I was expecting a lot more professional athletes to follow, unfortunately I was wrong.

  3. If you ever see black and white children play and hug each other then you will know racism isn’t natural… is learnt/thought……

    I’ll be far better than just “kind” and say what a mindblowingly excellent article, Dan.

    YOU ARE SO RIGHT in saying the only way to stop these Neanderthal racists is to jail them.

    I’d throw away the key if I had my way. Action works so much better than gestures, even though I would urge all teams to continue taking the knee. BUT most of all I would urge courts to jail these scumbags and let them rot as the filth they are.

    That in 2020 AD such stone crawlers are allowed to hurt and wound decent people, simply because of an irrelevant difference in skin colour is not to be tolerated and JAIL WORKS for really bad people who harm and hurt others.

    More jail terms and well publicised too, equals far less abuse and hurting of our common shared human race.

  5. I struggled to read beyond Saka’s first few words. What a dreadful indictment of some of the worst a*sholes in society

  6. Dan, I fully agree with your article.
    I might be called a bleeding heart or a snowflake for this post but It’s not just 4 weeks in jail he or his wife should worry about. I think it should be spelled out to him in large letters about what the further consequences of his actions could be. Assuming he’s not on the dole losing 4 weeks work with no income could mean financial difficulties and even ruin. If he’s self employed people may shun him and work dries up. If he’s employed what does his employer do if they have a zero tolerance policy to racism, does he lose his job? and then who will employ him? If he’s got a mortgage could his family lose their home?
    50 years old he may have children or grandchildren how would they feel or react to him now? especially grandchildren in school being taught and educated about racism finding out their own grandad is a racist who’s been in prison. How will other kids react to them. Unfortunately some young children can be rather spiteful in the playground. Friends, neighbours, local shopkeepers, does he frequent a local pub, who knows how it would affect the people around him.
    I don’t know if any of the above appertains to the person in question and even if it does, he probably wouldn’t give a damn.
    I have absolutely no sympathy for the guy himself he’s got what he deserves, but rightly or wrongly, I do feel some sympathy for any possible members of his family or friends that his actions may have affected.
    I hope the authorities continue with these prosecutions and hope it’s not just a token showpiece.

  7. Agree with everything in the article. Racism should not be tolerated.

    I would like to add something to it. Even in 2021 we seem to have failed to understand prisons or jails. It is high time jails across the world need to be converted from a ‘punishment center’ to a ‘transformation center’. It is then and only then they will serve their purpose to society and humankind. Most of the time people entering the jails committing small crimes comes out fully equiped to commit much larger crimes. These are not the transformation we want.

    1. Vinod, What an intelligent, though sadly much overlooked point, about the vital importance of helping prisoners become useful citizens upon their release.

      Education and a sense of worth are vital tools in doing so but punishment alone merely makes societys problem people worse.

      We put too many people in prison who are not bad people but who have made poor life decisions, OR WHO ARE POOR UNFORTUNATES, often illiterate , with little or no education, drink problems, drugs too, no social skills and we foolishly write off their futures.

      On the other hand , there are wicked, truly bad people out there who are let out of prison far too soon and who will NEVER be rehabilitated and who harm others, when they are released.

      The penal system is rotten, not fit for purpose and basically still 19th century in so called”thinking”!

      This applies to the law and barristers, judges and also, most often, Home Secretaries too across the whole 20th and 21st century up til now.

      People, including innocent victims of crime, are often undervalued and written off as “little people” who “don’t matter”!

      A society that always puts money before people is essentially sick and following the wrong values and path in life.

      An over indulgence in materialism and wealth is a sick and unhealthy society.


      1. I would add that racists who torment and hurt decent innocent people, simply becaue they(the racists) cannot stand for or UNDERSTAND that skin shades and a rich variety of different cultures are to be prized and valued, NOT feared and attacked, SHOULD BE JAILED.

        UNTIL they can prove to have changed their damaging philosophy and TRULY learned the error of their ways and the harm it can and does do.

        TRUE liberalism wil always value and put first the freedom of the whole of decent society to be unharmed by idiots and criminals . TRUE liberals will ALWAYS put the welfare and freedom of society, as a whole, above the fake “liberal idea” of allowing the individual “freedom” to harm others.

        That is tyranny, NOT liberalism.

  8. Writing people off as uncable of rehabilitation is dangerous. Strong punishments are of course necessary, but as is reeducation (and education in some cases). The moment we turn our backs on segments of society is the moment we lose any hope of making meaningful changes in future generations.

  9. I don’t know enough about the case other than the person was young and badgered Saka with rude and offensive racist comments.

    I cannot agree that imprisonment is a suitable punishment. Forcing them to do community service in the same community/race of those that they were offending in order to educate through experience is a far better punishment. Locking people in boxes without rehabilitation generally doesn’t work and sometimes creates bigger criminals since you can get educated in other areas of crime through new contacts.

    Racism is ‘usually’ due to people being exposed to it by parents/family/community and culture and at an early age (as someone said children are not born racists). They are programmed by it.

    I don’t think naming and shaming a good idea either. A long enough and enforced community service is punishment enough.

    If my son was to say one word racist word online (I’m not inferring this was the case in this matter as once again I don’t know enough about it) I would feel very aggrieved if he should be Imprisoned or witch hunted for it.

    Firstly social media platforms/applications should use AI to locate and block offensive language be they swear words of any kind or racist language. They should be flagged and the author warned and perhaps sent an article on the impact of racialism. Perhaps a history lesson on WWII and the genocide of the Jews.

    My point being is that education is the key.

    Persecuting people in order to completely break them or incarcerate for their wrongly formed habits and stupid actions is tantamount to being a racist.

    Let’s remember racism is rife. Yes people from all walks of life, from all races and cultures can be racist. They may not overtly display it though language online or in real life but that does not always reflect their inner thoughts and mental structures formed.

    A more considered approach is required but of course, it is easier and less hassle for the systems that rule to go for the easier , more impactful option.

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