Man faces jail for racist tweet about footballer Michael Obafemi

Michael obafemi

Michael Obafemi was subjected to the racial slur when he moved to Burnley from Swansea City (Image: Shutterstock)

A man could face jail time for calling a championship soccer player the N-word on Twitter.

Josh Phillips, 26, sent the racist tweet in response to the news that Michael Obafemi, 22, has been loaned to Burnley from Swansea City.

The soccer star was born in Dublin to Nigerian parents and later grew up in London.

Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard the racist tweet was deleted before Twitter blocked the account for violating the social media terms of service.

Police traced the tweet back to Phillips and made an arrest.

The 26-year-old admitted to sending the racial slur on January 28 and said he was drunk at the time.

He later pleaded guilty to sending a message over a public communications network that was grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or threatening in violation of the Communications Act 2003.

A victim statement from Obafemi was read to the court and said: “The racist abuse against me is totally unacceptable.

Swansea Magistrates' Court

Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard the tweet was deleted before Twitter blocked the Phillips account for breaching social media terms (Image: Media Wales)

“It doesn’t matter what I do for a living or the color of my skin. I’m human and I don’t deserve this behavior.

“This was extremely offensive and distressing to me, my family and friends who all read it.

“I hope the person who made these comments learns that this racial abuse is unacceptable.

“Any form of discrimination is absolutely unacceptable and I will not accept it.”

The judge warned Phillips of a football ban and possible jail time.

The case was adjourned over pre-sentence reports, and the court was told Phillips had previously been of good character.

Judge James told Phillips: “I will adjourn your case for a pre-judgment report.

Michael Obafemi #45 of Burnley before the Sky Bet Championship match Burnley v Huddersfield Town at Turf Moor, Burnley, UK February 25th 2023 (Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images)

Michael Obafemi was born in Dublin and raised in London (Image: Conor Molloy/News Images)

“It is clear that you have pleaded guilty to a very serious offense of this nature.

“The fact that I am deferring to make a prejudice report should not be taken by you as an indication of any penalty that will be imposed.

“All options are and will remain open in this case, including immediate detention.”

Phillips was released on bail pending his sentencing at Swansea Magistrates Court on March 31.

Swansea City released a tweet condemning “abhorrent” social media posts made following news of Obafemi’s loan move to Burnley at the time of the incident.

The club tweeted: “Swansea City are aware of the sickening racial abuse that has been publicized on social media in relation to Michael Obafemi’s loan move to Burnley.

“The club are disgusted by the vile language used in the offensive posts and are working to identify those responsible and take the strongest action possible.

“The matter has been reported to South Wales Police, who are conducting an investigation. Racism or discrimination of any kind has no place in society or in football.”

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Justin Scacco

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