Shropshire Star

Man, 31, denies racially abusing Rio Ferdinand at Molineux

A Staffordshire man has denied racially abusing football commentator Rio Ferdinand when fans returned to Molineux for the first time in over a year.

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Rio Ferdinand

Jamie Arnold is accused of saying racist words and making gestures towards Ferdinand just before half time during the match between Wolves and Manchester United on May 23.

Arnold, 31, of The Glebe, Norton Bridge, near Stone, appeared at Dudley Magistrates Court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.

Wearing a dark grey suit jacket and a black T-shirt, the defendant spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address and to enter his pleas during the short hearing.

Arnold opted to have his trial heard at Wolverhampton Crown Court, due to be listed on August 26.

He has also been charged with making homophobic comments, but entered no plea to this charge during the hearing. A separate hearing will be held into this charge at Dudley Magistrates Court on August 6.

Magistrates granted Arnold unconditional bail until his next hearing.

The incident allegedly took place during the first game where a reduced number of supporters were allowed into Molineux following the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions – and also marked head coach Nuno Espirito Santo’s final game.

The investigation has been led by Pc Stuart Ward the UK’s first dedicated hate crime officer within a football unit.

Pc Ward is at the forefront of the West Midlands Police unit’s ongoing work to stamp out any abuse against footballers and fans.

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