Supporter convicted of online racial abuse of former Premier League footballer
A football supporter has been convicted of racially abusing a professional footballer online.
Simon Silwood, 50, was convicted on 9 September 2021 at Walsall Magistrates’ Court for sending an offensive message regarding a black footballer, Romaine Sawyers, via social media in January 2021 following West Bromwich Albion 5-0 defeat by Manchester City.
During his police interview, Silwood admitted to posting a message on social media after becoming upset by West Bromwich Albion's defeat but blamed an error made by using predictive text.
The CPS and the West Midlands police were able to prove through an extensive review and investigation that the account put forward by the defendant in his police station interview was not plausible and that the content of his post was grossly offensive.
Mark Johnson, of the CPS, said: “In the 21st Century, it should be incomprehensible how a so-called football fan can abuse a player based on race, let alone a player on the team he purports to support.
“Silwood deliberately chose a word known to have clear racist connotations to abuse a footballer due to the colour of his skin. Such behaviour will not be tolerated in football and will be prosecuted by the CPS. As this is a hate crime, we will apply for a harsher sentence to reflect that.
"I would like to thank the witness for bringing Silwood’s post to the attention of West Bromwich Albion which then reported it to the West Midlands police.
“CPS West Midlands is working closely with the West Midlands Police Force Football Unit and their dedicated Hate Crime Football Officer to ensure that individuals who commit these types of offences are brought to justice.”
The CPS is currently working with the police, clubs, player bodies and organisations, like the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association to explain what evidence we need to pass our threshold for charging. This will help clubs and the leagues protect their players by ensuring we get everything we need to build the strongest cases.
Elizabeth Jenkins of the CPS continued: “There is no room in the game, nor elsewhere, for racism. Where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, we will prosecute such cases and seek an increased sentenced on conviction.
“Hate crimes such as these have a massive impact on players and their mental health. The CPS takes this kind of offending very seriously and this case shows that where offensive content is reported to the police we can successfully bring offenders to justice.”
Notes to editors
- Mark Johnson is the Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands
- Elizabeth Jenkins is the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West and the CPS sports lead prosecutor
- Simon Silwood (D.O.B.: 03/09/1971) was convicted of sending an offensive message by a public communications network at Walsall Magistrates' Court on 9 September 2021