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Criminal law sanctions for online racist abuse in football

Criminal law sanctions for online racist abuse in football
Friday, 07 May 2021 By Brian O'Neill QC, Paul Renteurs

The decision by football clubs, players and many other individuals in the football industry in this country to withdraw from social media last weekend in protest at the failure of ‘tech giants’ to prevent their platforms being used to broadcast racist messages has brought into focus yet again the misuse of social media for such communications and the apparent absence of a concerted determination to stamp it out. [1]

This article considers how the criminal law might be used to deter and punish those responsible for such behaviour, looking at:

  • The FA’s regime;
  • Criminal law in England & Wales.

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About the Author

Brian O'Neill QC

Brian O'Neill QC

Brian is a barrister at 2 Hare Court. Now entering his twelfth year in Silk, Brian provides advice and advocacy in private prosecutions (in which he has a particular expertise), business crime, and serious crime. His expert skills can be applied to any complex situation whether defending or prosecuting across various jurisdictions. He advises corporate clients in this jurisdiction and abroad and gives advice to foreign Governments. He has appeared in numerous high profile cases and has represented a number of professional footballers.

Paul Renteurs

Paul Renteurs

Paul Renteurs joined 2 Hare Court in 2014. Whilst specialising in criminal defence and prosecution, professional discipline, and coroners’ inquests, Paul’s practice encompasses work in the fields of occupational disease and general civil litigation.

Paul has gained a wealth of experience in the Crown Court, Disciplinary Tribunals and Coroners’ Courts, and has acted for a wide range of individual and corporate clients in a variety of litigious and regulatory settings.

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