A British teenager received a six-week prison sentence Wednesday after admitting to posting a racist message about soccer star Marcus Rashford.
Justin Lee Price, 19, sent the message after the European Championship final last year, Reuters reported.
“Price targeted a footballer based on the color of his skin, and his action was clearly racist and a hate crime,” Mark Johnson, a senior crown prosecutor for Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) West Midlands, said in a statement.
Rashford is one of several Black players on England’s soccer team who were targeted with racist messages on social media following their loss to Italy in the July championship match. He, along with Jadon Sanchi and Bukayo Saka, missed penalty kicks during the match, which was England’s first opportunity to score a major tournament victory in 55 years, The New York Times reported.
Price, who is from Worcester, admitted earlier this month to racially abusing Rashford, according to a CPS news release. The CPS said he posted a racist tweet in reference to Rashford on July 11, 2021, after England’s loss to Italy, but initially tried to distance himself from it to avoid detection.
Price changed his username after the tweet was reported, and then denied posting the tweet in his first police interview after being arrested, the release said. He admitted to the offense in his second police interview.
He pleaded guilty on March 17 in Worcester Magistrates’ Court to sending a grossly offensive message by public communication network, and received his sentence for six weeks of “immediate imprisonment” Wednesday at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court.
Johnson, the CPS West Midlands prosecutor, said in his statement that people who “racially abuse footballers ruin the game for all.”
“I hope this case sends out the message that we will not tolerate racism, and offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he added.
In keeping with this message, the CPS has successfully secured guilty pleas and sentences for several individuals in addition to Price who posted racist messages or content after the July match.
A former Shropshire parish councilor pleaded guilty earlier this month to sending a grossly offensive message by public communication, according to an earlier CPS release. The CPS announced in October last year that a man from Kent who posted a video with racist slurs after the match pleaded guilty to sending an obscene message via a social network.
Another U.K. man who pleaded guilty in September last year to posting racist abuse on social media about Rashford, Sancho and Saka said that he made the comments to make people laugh.
Newsweek has reached out to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), under which the UEFA Euro 2020 Final was played in July 2021, for comment on Price’s sentencing.
Update 3/30/22, 12:40 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information and background.