A man has been given a 14-week suspended sentence and must wear an electronic tag for 40 weeks over a racist comment directed towards black England footballers after the team’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final in July.
Scott McCluskey, 43, posted a status update on his Facebook profile shortly after England lost to Italy on 11 July, Warrington magistrates court heard. He blamed “three ethnic players” for the defeat and then used a racial slur calling for them to be sacked.
Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all missed their penalties and were deluged with racist posts in the aftermath of the game, prompting a political debate about racism in football and wider society.
McCluskey, from Runcorn, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to a single charge of sending an offensive or abusive message by a public communication network.
Describing it as a “foul offence which has far-reaching consequences”, district judge Nicholas Sanders sentenced McCluskey to 14 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, after the CPS successfully applied for the sentence to be strengthened because of the hate crime element.
McCluskey must complete 30 days of rehabilitation and wear an electronic tag on Saturdays from 9am to midnight and Sundays from 12pm to midnight for 40 weeks.
Simon Green, prosecuting, told the court that McCluskey‘s Facebook post was met with “condemnation and outrage” by those who were “friends” with the defendant.
McCluskey, who admitted to smoking cannabis on the night, claimed he had posted the message to make people laugh, saying, “it was a joke”, and later deleted the post, but it was reported to Cheshire police. The court heard that he had no previous convictions.
The prosecution said at the time of the posting “feelings were high” and there were already concerns about racist abuse online, particularly aimed at footballers.
Jo Lazzari, of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said that while “millions of us watched the England team with pride as they reached the final of the Euro 2020 tournament, Scott McCluskey took to his Facebook account and posted vile racist comments about the players who had missed penalties”.
She said that for one of the people who saw his comments, it brought back racism she experienced as a child and she felt angry, upset and disappointed at having seen such a message in her own home.
As well as the tag, McCluskey was also ordered to pay one of the victims £100 compensation, costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £128.
The judge said that such “posts were sadly widespread” and rightly attracted national condemnation.
“It is something that is revolting. Nobody should abuse anyone for the colour of their skin, to do so against three young men, clearly doing their very best for their country, is frankly sickening.”