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Racist gesture results in football ban

|News, Hate crime

A fan who racially abused Kasey Palmer during a Championship match has received a five-year football ban.

Edward Rabjohn, 21, of Sheffield, made racist gestures towards Coventry forward Mr Palmer who was collecting the ball for a throw in during a second half with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on January 20, 2024.

Rabjohn, who had drunk around six pints of beer before the game, was caught on broadcast cameras. After the match, he saw himself in the footage. 

In the police interview, he admitted to making the gesture then running away from the stadium. He also told his friends that he had messed up.

Mr Palmer informed the match referee Anthony Blackhouse of the gesture, who reported it to Coventry manager Mark Robins. Palmer told the police that he saw Rabjohn “extremely animated” and was looking directly at him while gesturing towards the footballer. 

Mr Palmer said he was “shocked, disgusted and sickened”. 

Today, at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court, Rabjohn pleaded guilty to racially abusing Mr Palmer. He was sentenced to a two-year community order and 200 hours of unpaid work. His sentence was increased to take account of the racially aggravating features of the incident.

Julian Tanikal, District Crown Prosecutor and CPS Yorkshire and Humberside lead sports prosecutor, said: “Racist abuse has no place in society, let alone in sports. While Rabjohn may have quickly realised that he had made an illegal gesture, it should not have entered his mind in the first place.

“Mr Palmer instantly highlighted his abuse, which was then escalated and reported to the police for investigation. I would encourage anyone who witnesses this type of offensive behaviour to report it immediately to help eradicate it from the game.”

Rabjohn will not be able to enter within a mile of Hillsborough Stadium or Sheffield Town Hall on matchdays or be able to travel to away games from four hours before and six hours after a game. He will also need to surrender his passport during international games – including tournaments such as Euro 2024.

Douglas Mackay, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor and CPS Lead Sports Prosecutor, said: "We want supporters to show their passion without crossing the line into criminality and we're working with football authorities including the Premier League and the Football Association, as well as with clubs and the police, to stamp out this cruel behaviour.

“As a result of his actions, Rabjohn has not only received a five-year ban from watching football, he will not be able to travel abroad during this summer’s Euro 2024.”

In his Victim Personal Statement, Mr Palmer said: “I am absolutely disgusted by the racist gestures directed towards me. The gesture displayed was from a football supporter who had paid money to attend a game, however has felt it appropriate to hurl racist abuse towards me. This is something I can’t understand or get my head around.

“The abuse directed towards me was completely uncalled for, unprovoked and unacceptable. As a professional football player, supporters pay good money and are entitled to have opinions about my performance on the pitch, whether that is good or bad, this is something most footballers accept.

“What I will never accept is gestures of a racist nature that are directed towards me or anyone else. This is disgusting behaviour and is done for one purpose which is to try and degrade me in front of people inside the ground watching and also people who are watching on TV all around the world.

“I have no doubt if this person saw me or any other black person in the street he would be like any other supporter and would want a picture or an autograph. Sadly, the gestures made by the male towards me have shown a complete and utter lack of respect towards me, Coventry City FC, Sheffield Wednesday FC, and more importantly my family and friends who have had to endure this nightmare with me.

“This male needs to understand the consequences of his behaviour, he needs to understand how he has made me feel and how this has had an impact on my life, my family and my career. We are now in 2024 and incidents like this should not be happening.”

Notes to editors

  • Edward Rabjohn [DOB: 24/10/02] was convicted of racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress – words/writing

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