A student has admitted to sending racist and offensive tweets following a player’s collapse during a soccer game this weekend, and he may now face jail time for it.
Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup quarter-final match away to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. The game was abandoned as he was taken to hospital. The 23-year-old is in a stable but critical condition.
Shortly after the player’s collapse, Liam Stacey posted ill-judged tweets about Muamba, which were reported to police by tweeters all over the U.K. Stacey was arrested on Sunday and spent the night in jail before appearing in court Monday, where he admitted incitement to racial hatred.
Stacey tweeted, “LOL, Fuck Muamba. He's dead.”
Lisa Jones, prosecuting against Stacey at a court in Swansea, Wales, said other tweeters criticized Stacey (whose Twitter account has been deleted). This led to him posting a string of other offensive and racist tweets in response.
Jones added that, “The recipients of these tweets were shown on their tweets images [sic] to be black men.”
The court was told that Stacey tried to claim his account had been hacked and had tried to delete his account. He told a friend by text that, "I said something about Muamba that I shouldn't have and tweeted back to some people who abused me. Getting police on me now which isn't good at all."
Stacey said he was drunk when he posted the tweets. “I don't know why I posted it,” he told police, according to Wales Online. “I'm not racist and some of my friends are from different cultural backgrounds."
A biology student, Stacey was released on bail on the condition that he stays off Twitter and other social-networking sites. He will be sentenced next week and was told he could be sent to jail.
Among those who reported Stacey to the authorities was former England striker Stan Collymore, who encouraged his followers to report anyone else sending racist tweets to the police. Several other Twitter users made Stacey’s university aware of his tweets as well.
Swansea University and Treorchy Rugby Football Club (where Stacey is said to have played rugby) have both said they will be investigating the student’s comments.
Following Stacey admitting his deed in court, several tweeters commented on the incident.
“The court should make example of Liam Stacey. Some jail time will send out a message to others. His university will also kick him into touch,” wrote Trevor Parnham.
“Liam Stacey putting my old uni on the map with his racist Muamba tweets. #Shameful,” tweeted Andy Lloyd-Williams.
A Twitter user who simply calls himself “Ollie” said he almost had sympathy for Stacey: “Almost feel for that Liam Stacey, not condoning it though, totally idiotic & pathetic but we've all done stupid things when drunk.”
After Stacey’s arrest and confession, some called for legal action to be taken against others who have tweeted allegedly racist and offensive comments about Muamba.
“Feel free to let @walken4GOP know what you think of his views on #Muamba - heartless, racist prick,” commented General Deluxe.
“Every follower of mine, please report @PrinceMohit7. Has tweeted making fun of Muamba and racist tweets,” wrote BarryStraughan.
This is not the first time a tweeter has been arrested in connection with racist remarks being made about a European athlete.
Back in November, two teens were arrested after posting racist tweets directed towards Newcastle United midfielder Sammy Ameobi. They were given final warnings by police last month after the decision was made not to prosecute them.
Photo by Struway