‘Devastated’ Rio Ferdinand’s horror at racial abuse by Wolves fan Jamie Arnold revealed

Wolves fan Jamie Arnold has been jailed for racially abusing TV pundit Rio Ferdinand ad Molineux
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TV pundit Rio Ferdinand's distress at being racially abused by a Wolves fan during a Premier League game at Molineux has been laid bare in his victim impact statement.

The former England, Leeds and Manchester United star was subjected to monkey gestures by Arnold in May 2021. It is not the first time that Arnold had racially abused a public figure. In 2011 he was guilty of racially abusing a police officer.

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On Friday (December 8) Arnold, aged 33, from Stone in Staffordshire, was jailed for six months and given a seven year football banning order, preventing him from attending any football match anywhere in the UK.

Now Rio Ferdinand’s emotional victim impact statement he provided to West Midlands Police hate crime PC Stuart Ward has been unveiled, showing the huge distress Arnold’s actions had on him.

Rio Ferdinand outside Wolverhampton Crown CourtRio Ferdinand outside Wolverhampton Crown Court
Rio Ferdinand outside Wolverhampton Crown Court

‘A complete lack of respect for me, my family, Wolves FC and everyone associated to football’

Rio said: "I was extremely distressed, distraught and devastated by this. As a ex-professional football player who has played all over the world representing my club and country I have unfortunately experienced racist comments and gestures whilst playing, however I have learnt to deal with these and have always been supported.

"However working on TV this is something I have never experienced as a pundit, to be inside a football stadium which was live on TV broadcast around the world makes me sad and angry that someone felt the need to do this to me, which is something I will never ever forget."

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He added: "Although this incident occurred on Sunday I am constantly thinking about the incident, this is mainly because I was abused inside a football stadium during a live football game that I was involved in providing media coverage.

"Still to this day I do not know why I was abused at the Molineux on the 23rd May 2021, this abuse was unprovoked and completely unacceptable. I accept as an ex-professional football player there will be supporters who will voice opinions about me or whilst I am working on TV, what I don’t accept is that the opinions or gestures made about me or towards me should be abusive and racist where comments are made regarding the colour of my skin and my background. 

“The male who abused me has showed a complete lack of respect for me, my family, Wolves FC and everyone associated to football. The male needs to understand how they made me feel and most importantly take responsibility for their actions. It is now 2021 and behaviour like this is completely unacceptable.

"I have worked extremely hard in my life to get to where I am in my career and never thought an incident like this would have such an impact on my life and on my career.

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"I am pursuing this case to court because I strongly believe something needs to happen to eradicate racism not only from football but from all forms of society and therefore put my faith in the criminal justice system to ensure this happens."

Wolves fan Jamie Arnold jailed for racially abusing Rio Ferdinand at MolineuxWolves fan Jamie Arnold jailed for racially abusing Rio Ferdinand at Molineux
Wolves fan Jamie Arnold jailed for racially abusing Rio Ferdinand at Molineux

‘Arnold has quite rightly lost his freedom’

PC Ward - who was appointed the UK's first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit - said: "There is no place for discrimination within football, and society in general, and Arnold has quite rightly lost his freedom.

"His behaviour was offensive, and unacceptable, and others in the ground were just as appalled as I was by his actions.  We were grateful to Rio for assisting our investigation and supporters who witnessed what happened and were willing to provide statements. It's through this evidence we were able to ensure we could convict Arnold. 

"We need victims to report what has happened and with the support of the wider public we can bring those responsible to justice. Arnold should feel utterly embarrassed by what he did, and hopefully his time behind bars will make him realise nobody will accept or tolerate such appalling behaviour." 

What to do if you have been subjected to football-related hate crime

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Anyone who has been a victim of a football-related hate crime, or has information about an offence, can contact West Midlands Police website via the Live Chat service on our website or by calling 101.