A man has been convicted for racially abusing former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand while he was working as a pundit in 2021.
Wolves fan Jamie Arnold was found guilty of causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm, or distress by a jury in a Wolverhampton court on Wednesday. Arnold will be sentenced next month and faces a maximum of two years in prison.
Arnold racially abused Rio Ferdinand while he was on pundit duty for the match between Wolves and Manchester United at Molineux in May 2021. Five witnesses testified that they had seen Arnold make the gesture. He also was caught on CCTV footage showing him talking about what he had done to his father.
Ferdinand did not hear or see the abuse, but later was informed of the incident. He told the court: “I felt sick if I’m honest. First time I’d gone back into a stadium in a long time, it’s not what you expect. I’ve had this before when growing up, I don’t expect it in football.”
Ferdinand said in a statement: “Racism will only be eradicated when we all work together as a society!
“The prosecution wouldn’t have been possible without all the help and support from the witnesses. Wolves fans and staff that came forward to testify in court.
“Special thank you to Police Constable Stuart Ward (Football Hate Crime Officer), my family and my team at New Era!”
A spokesman for anti-racism organisation Kick It Out said: “Kick It Out welcomes the guilty verdict handed to Arnold today. It is imperative that perpetrators of discriminatory abuse are held to account for their actions. we hope this result sends a strong statement that racism has no place in our society.”
James Arnold was previously banned from games for three years after being found guilty of homophobic abuse aimed at referee Mike Dean as well as mimicking disability.