Express & Star

Hate-filled yob who 'brought shame' on Wolves jailed for six months for racially abusing Rio Ferdinand

The racist, homophobic, disability shaming yob who racially abused Rio Ferdinand has been jailed.

Last updated

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276

Wolves fan Jamie Arnold, 33, went on a drunken hate crime spree during the first Premier League match after lockdown in May 2021 culminating in monkey gestures being aimed at the BT Sport pundit.

Arnold was found guilty of aggravated racially abusing Rio Ferdinand after two previous trials at Wolverhampton Crown Court collapsed. During the same match, Wolves v Manchester United, Arnold directed homophobic abuse at the referee which had previously been sentenced for.

Judge Rhona Campbell launched a blistering attack on Arnold as she sentenced him to six months in prison and gave him a seven year footballing banning order, which will mean he cannot even be in the vicinity of The Molineux on match days.

She said: "You have brought shame on your city and shame on your club. Wolverhampton Wanderers do not want a racist on their terraces, they do not want you as a fan and this city does not tolerate racist behaviour in its midst.

"It was a day of real excitement as home fans were allowed back into Premiership football games for the first time, socially distanced after the arrival of the Covid pandemic. It was a day to be joyful."

She added: "You had been lucky enough to get a ticket but your focus was not on football, it was on causing conflict and distress.

"I saw the footage in this case. You were a parasite to proper Wolverhampton fans on that day.

"When the players took the knee to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, you booed. You shouted homophobic abuse at the referee. You used repeated and offensive actions towards those on the pitch which I have no doubt were meant to mock those with disabilities.

Jamie Arnold

"You chanted 'there's only one John Terry' at Rio Ferdinand, it was clearly a personal attack. You were doggedly trying to get the attention of, and antagonise, a significant and successful public figure."

She added: "It is difficult to think of a grouping in society Mr Arnold that you did not want to diminish on that day, apart from white, able bodied, straight males, just like you."

The judge dismissed Arnold's mitigation that he was not very clever and had been influenced by his father and friends. Judge Campbell believed a custodial sentence was needed because in his pre-sentence report revealed he still could not see what he had done wrong.

She also acknowledged recent Government sentencing guidelines to judges to only jail the most dangerous of criminals due to pressure on the prison system.

However, as Arnold, from Stone, committed his hate filled abuse whilst on a suspended sentence for abusing emergency workers, he had to be sent to jail. Arnold turned up to court with pumps for prison and other essentials experienced prisoners know they need to take to the clink.

Jamie Arnold came prepared for a stay at His Majesty's Pleasure.

Rio Ferdinand, who gave evidence in the previous trials, wrote a personal victim impact statement for the court.

He 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."

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."

He added: "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. 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."