Rio Ferdinand sends message to Wolves fan removed from stadium for racially abusing him
Rio Ferdinand was just the latest victim in yet another incident of racist abuse
Clubs all around the UK have been looking forward to seeing their fans return to the ground for the last game of the season. However, during Sunday's match between Wolves and Manchester United, that moment was marred by an individual who directed a monkey chant at Rio Ferdinand.
Reacting to the moment on Twitter, Ferdinand responded firmly but, crucially, by placing the emphasis on education and inviting the man to speak to him:
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 & educated. Come meet me & I will help you understand what it feels like to be racially abused!
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 23, 2021
Sinead Sweeney, Inspector for the Football Policing Unit West Midlands, responded to say that the individual had been arrested immediately and reiterated that this kind of behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated.
— Sinead Sweeney (@SweeneySinead1) May 23, 2021
West Midlands Police later confirmed that the man charged was a 31-year-old and had been arrested for the racist gesture, once again standing in solidarity by stating, "We will not tolerate football hate crime[s]".
Wolves have themselves issued an apology to the ex-pro and pundit, once again confirming these same details mentioned above, as well as informing they will help "to ensure that the strongest action is taken, including a lifetime ban from our club".
We are deeply sorry Rio. This person does not represent our club, our supporters or our values.
We can confirm that this individual has been arrested by @WMPolice, who we will support to ensure that the strongest action is taken, including a lifetime ban from our club. https://t.co/O17p87QzZ0
— Wolves (@Wolves) May 23, 2021
Molineux was also one of a number of grounds where audible boos could be heard before kick-off following players taking the knee, though no official statement has yet been made either from select clubs or the Premier League.
Rio then went on to speak live on BT Sport following the match, once again, saying that he would "love to meet up with fella and just educate him a little bit". He went on to add that "punishment without education isn't the way forward", as well as recognising that this particularly ignorant individual does not reflect the majority of the other well-meaning fans in the ground.
"I'd love to meet up with the fella and just educate him a little bit.
"Punishing people without education isn't the way forward."@rioferdy5 offers his thoughts and feelings on a shameful racist incident at Molineux.
The person in question is in police custody.#DrawTheLine pic.twitter.com/acVqs8ngHB
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) May 23, 2021
This morning, Ferdinand also shared a video from BT Sport's #HopeUnited campaign, which is the broadcaster's new initiative alongside already existing movements like No Room For Racism, Kick It Out and #StopOnlineHate.
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 24, 2021
Ferdinand is just one of many footballing personalities who have joined the movement which aims to deliver important digital resources to help combat abuse, especially in online spaces, and educate people on racism.
It's a terrible shame that so many different approaches must be taken to reinforce what should be such a simple reality: that racism and discrimination of any form are simply unacceptable in society.