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Statement From Bristol Rovers and Avon and Somerset Police

20 December 2021

A statement from Bristol Rovers and Avon and Somerset Police.

A man has been banned from football matches after admitting sending a racially abusive message to the owner of Bristol Rovers Football Club.

The man, who is in his 30s, sent the offensive message via Twitter to Wael Al-Qadi following Bristol Rovers' 1-1 draw against 10-man Barrow on Saturday 28 August.

A police investigation followed to track down the offender, who was using an anonymous account in an attempt to hide his identity. The tweet was subsequently deleted.

However, following lengthy enquiries working alongside the UK Football Policing Unit and the English Football League, a man was identified and admitted during a voluntary police interview this week to sending the racially abusive message.

The man, who lives in Kingswood, has received a conditional caution and will be required to attend a hate crime awareness course.

He has also been handed a 16-week football banning order, prohibiting from attending any home or away Bristol Rovers fixtures. He is also banned from any England internationals that fall within that period.

Under the terms of his football banning order, he also cannot attend the surrounding area where those games are being played for a fixed number of hours either side of the match.

Bristol Rovers CEO, Tom Gorringe has said:

"Rovers is a family club and abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. Whether it is players, staff, fellow supporters or any other member of our community, it is vitally important that everyone feels that they can support the club freely.

"The vast majority of our supporters are positive and supportive, but anyone found to be acting in a discriminatory manner will face the appropriate sanctions and will not be welcome here at The Memorial Stadium.

"The rise in social media abuse is a national problem, and not one confined just to our club or sport; however, positive action - as has been the case here - will hopefully help tackle the issue and raise awareness of the effects of what is said online."

Dedicated football officer PC Mark Neal said:

"Football is a passionate game, but there can be no excuse for sending vile and offensive messages. There is absolutely no place in our society for racism.

"This was a hate crime. Nobody should be forced to endure such abuse.

"We'd urge anyone who experiences any hate abuse to make sure they report it to police. All such reports will be taken seriously and we hope this case shows that offenders will be pursued and dealt with.

"We are grateful for the support of Bristol Rovers and Mr Al-Qadi while we investigated this matter."

Information on how to report a hate crime and to access support is available HERE.

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