A soccer fan who racially abused Brentford FC star Ivan Toney on social media has been banned from every UK stadium for three years, the Premier League club announced in a statement on Tuesday.
Antonio Neill, 24, from Blyth in Northumberland, UK, sent racist messages to Toney on October 14, 2022, on Instagram which the Brentford forward shared publicly. This lead to Northumbria Police – supported by the Metropolitan Police – launching a full investigation.
Neill appeared before a magistrate in Newcastle in January 2023 where he pleaded guilty to sending the offensive messages.
“Neill was handed (on Monday) a four-month sentence suspended for two years for the online offence as well as a three-year football banning order – the first of its kind to be issued under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022,” said Brentford.
“The order forbids Neill from attending any regulated football match in the UK, which includes Premier League, Championship, League One, League Two and National League fixtures, as well as England home internationals.
“The banning order also prevents him from traveling abroad to watch international friendlies, qualification matches and tournaments,” the club added.
Commenting on the case, Northumbria police and crime commissioner Kim McGuinness said Tuesday: “If you are going to choose to be vile and abusive to others, doing it from behind a computer screen or on your phone doesn’t mean you’ll get away with it, far from it.
“As this case shows, Northumbria Police can track you down and I hope this banning order demonstrates how seriously officers take hate matters and that it paves the way for other offenders to face similar punishment in future,” McGuinness said.
“This is a first and I am proud of Northumbria’s involvement in making it happen,” McGuinness added.
Brentford said it is “pleased to see the Antonio Neill case resolved and that Northumbria Police pursued this to a conclusion. 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 added.