Teenage football fan admits racially abusing Jewish man after Euro 2020 match

·4-min read

A teenager has admitted racially abusing a Jewish man on the London Underground following England’s victory over Ukraine during Euro 2020.

The 17-year-old, who was holding a can of lager, yelled “I f****** hate Jews” at the man as he took the escalator towards the platforms at Oxford Circus Tube Station.

A clip of the incident at just after midnight on July 4 sparked outrage after it was widely circulated on social media and the British Transport Police put out an appeal for information leading to an arrest.

The defendant eventually handed himself in to police on July 11 and was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence on July 23.

At a hearing at Highbury Corner Youth Court on Monday, he admitted the offence, but insisted he bore no hatred towards Jewish people.

Prosecutor Valerie Benjamin told the court the victim, who has been named only as Yosuf, was wearing “distinctive Jewish attire” including a skull cap.

She said the victim, a postgraduate student, had started filming when he became aware of the defendant and his group of friends staring at him.

Ms Benjamin said: “The defendant said ‘I f****** hate Jews’ while banging on the side of the escalator.”

The 17-year-old also allegedly yelled “take off your hat” although he denied making such a comment.

Two members of the public came to the victim’s assistance, the court heard, while the defendant left the station by train.

The incident was the second time the man had been racially abused that evening, having been threatened by a man on a bus as he made his way to the Tube station.

Ms Benjamin said the victim was now too anxious to use public transport, and was incurring significant expense taking taxis when he is unable to walk to a destination.

In his police interview, the defendant said he had been at Leicester Square watching the match and had made the comments because he thought “it might have been funny at the time”.

He added: “I now know it was stupid and offensive.”

Mohammed Zeb, for the defendant, told the court the teenager had shown remorse for his actions and “done the right thing” by coming forward to police.

Mr Zeb said he had “made a stupid comment for no reason”.

He continued: “He told me ‘I’ve got no problem with anybody, I’m not into religion, it was spur of the moment’.”

When questioned by District Judge Susan Williams, the defendant – a Millwall fan – said that over the course of the evening different groups of fans had been singing different chants, including those associated with Tottenham Hotspur.

“I didn’t really think through (the comment), it just came out, and I just left and ran,” he said.

He said it must have been frightening for the victim, adding: “Especially as he was by himself – I think I would have been scared as well.”

Judge Williams said: “There is nothing wrong with a bit of friendly rivalry but we have fought a world war about this sort of racial discrimination, dreadful things were done and this sort of thing leaves scars on people’s memories.

“You don’t know if (the victim) lost a grandfather or a father or half his family in a concentration camp because of who he is.”

She continued: “That is the kind of memories that you are stirring up when you attack him about who he is.”

“You give the beautiful game a bad name,” she added.

The court heard that the defendant has previous convictions for theft and driving offences.

Judge Williams said: “You have got to take a serious decision about which way you are going in life – do you mind your manners, mind your mouth and mind the way you drive?”

She advised him to quit drinking, saying: “Either cut it down or cut it out, or you are going to find yourself in serious trouble.”

The 17-year-old will be sentenced on September 3 to allow time for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

He was granted bail on the condition he does not attend or loiter outside any stadium where either Millwall or England are playing, and not to attend or loiter outside Wembley Stadium regardless of the event taking place inside.

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