London: Two Manchester City supporters have received five-year bans from football matches and lifetime suspensions from the Premier League champions’ stadium after being found guilty of racist abuse.
Ian Baldry, 58, made a racist comment towards City and England winger Raheem Sterling as he celebrated scoring a goal in a Premier League game against Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium in December 2018.
The defendant from Yorkshire pleaded guilty in September to causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.
On Friday, he was sentenced at Manchester Magistrates’ Court and also ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and pay 170 pounds (222 dollars) court costs.
In a witness statement against the defendant, another supporter present at the match told police “it was disgusting in this day and age that this was going on.
“I was shocked and offended and felt sick to my stomach when I heard it.”
Baldry’s friend, James McConnell, from Manchester, was heard making racist remarks about two match stewards at the same game.
Witnesses described McConnell as being drunk and abusive throughout the first half and regularly using foul language to insult the players on the pitch, said Greater Manchester Police.
The 57-year-old went on to make a comment about the race of a Bournemouth player, reportedly defender Tyrone Mings.
A fellow fan confronted McConnell about his behaviour and later reported him to stewards.
McConnell was also spotted shouting similar comments at a City player who took a corner at a home game against Newcastle two months earlier, said police.
He was also sentenced in Manchester after pleading guilty.
In a statement, City said: “Following the sentencing of Ian Baldry and James McConnell at Manchester Magistrates’ Court and in line with Manchester City’s zero tolerance approach to discrimination, lifetime bans have been issued by the club.
“The club would like to thank Manchester City supporters for reporting both incidents and their cooperation throughout the investigations.”
Racism continues to scar football, with England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria twice stopped due to racism in the stands earlier this season, while Gareth Southgate’s team encountered the same issue in another match in Montenegro.
Last season, a banana was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by a Tottenham fan, while Sterling was subjected to alleged racist abuse in a match at Chelsea.
Numerous football fixtures in Italy have also been marred by racism.