A 31-year-old man has been charged by West Midlands Police for racially abusing Rio Ferdinand during Wolverhampton Wanderers’ match with Manchester United on May 23.
Jamie Arnold was arrested during the match at Molineux and has been accused of using racist words and gestures towards the former England defender, as well as making homophobic comments.
Ferdinand was working as a TV pundit for BT Sport at the time of the incident. Wolves fan Mr Arnold is set to appear at Dudley Magistrates Court on July 29.
A statement from West Midlands Police read: ‘It was the first game where a reduced number of supporters were allowed into the ground following the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions.
‘The investigation has been led by PC Stuart Ward who was appointed the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit.
A 31-year-old man has been charged with using racist words and gestures towards Rio Ferdinand during Wolves match with Manchester United on May 23
Jamie Arnold was arrested over allegations he made racist comments towards the football pundit and has also been charged with making homophobic comments
‘He is at the forefront of our unit’s ongoing work to stamp out any abuse against footballers and fans.’
Former England defender Ferdinand revealed he was racially abused while live on air for BT Sport and, after hearing of the arrest, declared his desire to meet with Mr Arnold to educate him about the matter.
‘Fortunately I’ve just had a tweet come through from West Midlands Police saying that a fan has been arrested and he’s currently in custody,’ Ferdinand said.
‘It says they take racism very seriously which is pleasing to see and refreshing. But listen, I’d love to meet up with the fella and just educate him a little bit.
Ferdinand has said he would like to meet the man arrested for the abuse to help ‘educate’ him
‘I think that’s part of the problem, punishing people without education isn’t the way forward and it’s disappointing.
‘People have waited all these months, over a year to get back in the stadium and then you come in with ignorance like that.
‘It was uncalled for, not needed, not warranted at all. Disappointing really. But listen, that’s just a very small minority in the stand that was doing it. We were having banter with the fans and stuff.
‘The fans here, the emotion and atmosphere they created today was fantastic and that’s one person that tries to destroy it for everybody else.’
Former United defender Ferdinand was a pundit for BT Sport and watched Wolves play United
The ex-Manchester United and England captain tweeted on the evening of May 23: ‘The last couple weeks, it’s been unreal to see fans back. However, to the Wolves fan who has just been thrown out for doing a monkey chant at me, you need to be dismissed from football and educated.
‘Come meet me and I will help you understand what it feels like to be racially abused!’
Wolves offered an apology to Ferdinand after the match and vowed to take the ‘strongest action’ against Mr Arnold, including a lifetime ban from football matches.
A tweet from the official club account read: ‘We are deeply sorry Rio. This person does not represent our club, our supporters, or our values.
Wolves issued a direct apology to Ferdinand and insisted the fan doesn’t ‘represent’ the club
‘We can confirm that this individual has been arrested by @WMPolice, who we will support to ensure the strongest action is taken, including a lifetime ban from our club.’
The charges against Mr Arnold come after England trio Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho received racist abuse after they missed penalties for the Three Lions in the Euro 2020 final with Italy.
This week, the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) provided an update on its investigation following abusive posts towards the three international players.
Three suspects have already been publicly identified – plasterer Brad Pretty, 49, from Folkestone, Kent; estate agent Andrew Bone, 37, from Sale, Cheshire; and children’s football coach Nick Scott, 50, from Powick, Worcestershire.
England players Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford (left to right) all received racist abuse after all three missed penalties for England in the Euro 2020 final
A fourth suspect, a 37-year-old man from Ashton-upon-Mersey in Greater Manchester, was then arrested on Wednesday, officials said, before a fifth, a 42-year-old man from Runcorn was then detained by police in Cheshire on Thursday. He has since been released under investigation pending further enquires.
In a public statement this week, Saka, 19, revealed that he expected to receive the abuse immediately after his penalty was saved.
‘I knew instantly the type of hate that I was about to receive, that is a sad reality,’ Saka wrote on Instagram.
‘There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.’
All three players released statements this week condemning the racist abuse they received
Writing on social media, Sancho also hit out at the people who racially abused him and his international team-mates.
The 21-year-old said: ‘I’m not going pretend that I didn’t see the racial abuse that me and my brothers Marcus and Bukayo received after the game, but sadly it’s nothing new. As a society we need to do better, and hold these people accountable.
‘Hate will never win. To all the young people who have received similar abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing the dream.
‘I am proud of this England team and how we have united the whole nation in what has been a difficult 18 months for so many people. Much as we wanted to win the tournament, we will build and learn from this experience going forward.’
Rashford saw his Greater Manchester mural defaced before fans covered the vandalism with positive messages
Rashford, who saw his mural in Greater Manchester vandalised after the final, added: ‘I’ve grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.
‘I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough. But I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from. I’ve felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands.
‘I’m Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, south Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that.’