On the list of things in England that I love, add jailing a racist internet troll for abusing Marcus Rashford next to the Great British Bakeoff, an accent that makes everything sound classy, using holiday as a verb, and Tom Holland. News that Justin Lee Price, 19, of Worcester, will be spending the next six weeks locked up for an offensive comment after the 2020 Euros is every bit as satisfying as a Paul Hollywood handshake.
He wasn’t the only person who directed appalling, infuriating comments at the 24-year-old footballer after Rashford missed a penalty in the Euro Championship Final, but he may be the first of many to get nicked for directing that sort of language at soccer players. (The English Premier League has opened 400 investigations into the alleged abuse of players and managers on social media during the past year, according to Sportsmail.)
Price tried to skip out on paying the tab for his derogatory check by changing his Twitter username, and even denied posting the remark in his initial interview with authorities before admitting that he was indeed that guy in a second interview with police, according to Sky Sports.
“Price targeted a footballer based on the color of his skin and his action was clearly racist and a hate crime.
“Those who racially abuse footballers ruin the game for all,” said Mark Johnson, senior Crown prosecutor for CPS Midlands of the case. (The UK’s public agency for prosecution going by the name “Crown Prosecution Service” also makes the Things in England That I Love list.)
While Johnson isn’t wrong, I’d argue that hate crimes ruining soccer is one of the least important reasons why racism is shitty. It’s awful for so many other, more life-altering reasons than sullying a game. (I.e incarceration rates, police brutality, housing discrimination, access to education, etc.)
However, society as a whole cares more about racism’s effect on sports because of its popularity and because watching the game is supposed to be “an escape.”
“I don’t think about the ills of humanity in the first place, so I especially don’t want it in my face during my leisure time!”
In the Sky Sports story, Douglas MacKay, CPS sports lead prosecutor, said hate crimes relating to soccer have spiked in recent years.
“The UK Football Policing Unit’s internal mid-season report has shown a significant rise in football-related criminality compared to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
According to a study by Pickswise, Rashford is the target of the most social media hate by any athlete not named LeBron James. If you’ve followed the Man United forward’s career at all, that shouldn’t surprise you.
My hypothesis is that as we all moved online during quarantine, people grew increasingly courageous with their bullshit because it’s easier to be irredeemably awful when you can’t see people’s emotions and the threat of physical violence is absent.
However, getting tracked down and made to answer for a despicable comment in the form of jail time could change that. I would’ve loved to see the expressions on Price’s face at each step of the process as it probably went from confused and combative at first, to reluctantly accepting, to holy fuck I’m going to jail.
Life comes at you fast, and even though the tournament that provoked the tweet ended a year and a half ago, this ass clown got a month of incarceration, stale sandwiches, and public showers for something he said on the internet.
Hallelujah! Holy shit! Now where’s the Tylenol?
“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,” the senior Crown prosecutor said.
Accountability tends to make people think before they act. If everyone had an angry Will Smith waiting in the wings to slap the shit out of them whenever they tweeted a dumbass joke, Twitter would only be one level of hell and not the seven it currently is. (Also, if Chris Rock knew he was going to get assaulted, he probably wouldn’t have told the joke — or at least he would’ve come up with one worthy of being slapped over.)
Thankfully, Smith doesn’t have that kind of time or availability, and the UK government has a more effective, less violent way of dealing with malfeasance.