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Teenager Jailed For Online Trolling of Marcus Rashford - 5 Year Jail Sentences On Horizon Too!

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

By Jatinder Singh, Lighthouse Global Associate


A teenager was sentenced to prison recently for trolling England footballer Marcus Rashford and proposed new laws include recommendations for 5-year sentences for online hate offenders!


Image courtesy of: uk.anygator.com

Trolling in Football

As someone who experienced a lot of racism myself as a football mad kid, particularly on the football field itself- I know how painful it is. Especially when you are in a minority and the opposition players outnumber you. It can be very lonely! So when I saw that a troll of Marcus Rashford, the England and Manchester United player had been sent to jail, I was really surprised given how prevalent the problem has been and how little action has been taken in the past in this area, so I wanted to write about it.


The Problem of Trolls in Football

Now, it seems the tide is changing against football trolls as the police and judicial authorities are showing that abuse and trolling online will no longer be tolerated or left unpunishable!

For years footballers, particularly foreign and non-white footballers have been subject to a bombardment of abuse, especially black players, when they have made mistakes on the pitch - and for years their abusers “got away with it.”


Trolls want to cause as much pain as possible and they know that racism has been a problem in football for decades and is an emotionally vulnerable target for players. Ultimately how would you feel if you had tens of thousands of trolls sending you abusive and vitriolic messages, bringing your race into it because they know it will hurt you a lot? If you want to educate yourself more about the pathology of a troll, this article from one of my colleagues Mel Francis goes into meaningful detail.


Trolling in football, which has often been tribal anyway, has got worse recently as trolls have been able to use social media to directly target and abuse football players. This is largely because over the last 10 years, footballers have used their social media accounts as a way to build their brands and connect with their fans. Trolls have therefore spotted an opportunity to inflict their vitriol through a more direct avenue, knowing that players will see their posts! Furthermore, trolls also use football results as an excuse i.e it’s not just because their team lost a football match, the losing of a football match is a perfect excuse to inflict their anger onto someone else.


Hate Crime Is A Criminal Offence

However that is now changing. On March 17th 2022, a teenager, Justin Lee Price (aged 19), was sentenced to 6 weeks in prison for abusing Marcus Rashford after he missed a penalty in the Euro 2020 final held at Wembley Stadium in 2021.


"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."

Currently, hate crime relates to specific offences that include race as a basis for the motive of harassment. As a result, while there is specific legislation that relates to online harassment that isn’t covered by these specific offences, trolls have been able to get away with their harassment by slipping through the cracks especially with the police being under-resourced.

In line with changing this, the government is in the process of introducing the Online Safety Bill which is currently going through parliament. As part of this proposed law, Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said the proposed new law would have the effect of:

“[bringing] the full weight of the law against those who use the internet as a weapon to ruin people’s lives”.

Consequences Of Trolling In Football

Now a lot of people may well go, “well they are professional footballers. They earn £100K+ per week so they can put up with the racism and the trolling abuse! However, the point is that they are human beings and what they earn shouldn’t come into it. Would you accept abuse from your customers if they paid you more? Secondly, no matter how much someone earns, it’s virtually impossible not to be affected by someone else’s anger when it is in the thousands of posts!!


“The hardest bit for me to accept - even with all the years I've been in the game - is that somebody, an older or younger individual, would racially abuse somebody because of the colour of their skin. The thought process for somebody at the receiving end of that is incredibly degrading. But until you see more people of colour involved in the visual aspects of game, at higher positions - board level, director level - it will continue to be more difficult.”

Trolls, be warned, the days of harassment without consequence are coming to an end! You will be held accountable.


At Lighthouse International, now known as Lighthouse Global, we are being part of the solution to trolling, whether that is helping individuals or businesses. Lighthouse Global has a number of initiatives including Business Against Trolling which is supporting businesses and business owners and individuals employed by them who have become victims of online trolling which is severely damaging them, their family and their business.


To find out more, please get in touch by emailing me at jatinder.singh@lighthouseglobal.family


269 views20 comments

20 comentários


Diane Cubitt
Diane Cubitt
16 de abr. de 2022

This is the sign of what is to come for those who feel that they can abuse others from behind a computer screen. Trolling is a form of terrorism, putting the victim under a lot of stress and in many cases, because they feel so trapped and isolated by threats, they take their own lives. This is happening far too much in the case of Children. Marcus Rashford is a young player that wants to play for his country, he was proud to put in that England shirt. The hours of work that he has to put into to be in that position is massive and he does not and nor does any other football player deserve to be harassed…

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Mel Francis
Mel Francis
15 de abr. de 2022

Great article Jatinder and thank you for writing about this, it is such a great example of the character trait of sadism that we see in trolls who enjoy inflicting pain on other people as I wrote about in my article which you've kindly linked. I agree with Chris Hughton, it's hard to conceive what it's like on the other end of racial abuse as well as where someone needs to be in their head and their heart in order to be a) abusive b) racially abusive. But it's not like we are paragons of virtue, we all inflict harm when we might not mean to but we can minimise the consequences to the degree we take responsibility and make…

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jessholder
jessholder
13 de abr. de 2022

Thank you Jatinder, as you rightly said, it doesn't matter how much they earn, there is still a harmful consequence to those who are trolled, regardless of that. And that by no means can be used as some sort of excuse to get away with trolling. Trolls are being held more and more accountable and this is just one example. Thank you for sharing on such an important subject that we are all affected by one way or another, whether that's directly or indirectly, and that at Lighthouse we've started an initiative Business Against Trolls to help tackle this situation!

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jessholder
jessholder
17 de abr. de 2022
Respondendo a

Yes, thank you, Dee, you can check out our Parents Against Trolls & Trolling and Business Against Trolls & Trolling here.

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Daniel Schmitz
Daniel Schmitz
13 de abr. de 2022

Thanks Jatinder for your article and also for sharing personally about your experience with racial abuse growing up. We are all human beings and independent of life situations, what we own and how much money we have, we are still impacted by negative comments and abuse. We might be able to pretend and brush it aside but no one wants to read this about themselves or even about their family members. As you said Jatinder, the time of trolling comes to an end, people will be kept accountable and there will be consequences. We ought to look after each other as a human family and those with a negative, destructive pathology will feel it with whatever measure is appropriate, like…

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zach54
zach54
13 de abr. de 2022

Such a brilliant example of how people cannot say and do whatever they want to online without consequences to their actions and being held accountable. I hope it will send a clear message to those out there choosing to get involved with this kind of destructive behavior!

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James Mills
James Mills
15 de abr. de 2022
Respondendo a

Cheers Zach, you make a really good point. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequence. What's key is not just what's said, but the intent behind what's said. Is the intention to help someone become aware of their shortcomings and to encourage them to regenerate, to improve? Or is it to break down and destroy in order to feel more significant? These both look and feel very different!

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