Man arrested and released under investigation after Wigan Athletic footballer receives racist message

A man has been arrested and released under investigation as part of a police probe into a racist message sent to Wigan Athletic player Nathan Byrne on social media.

Sunday, 7th April 2019, 8:07 pm
Updated Monday, 8th April 2019, 11:54 am
Nathan Byrne in action
Nathan Byrne in action

Lancashire Police confirmed a 20-year-old man from Sheffield contacted them and handed himself in at Blackpool Police Station on Saturday (April 6).

He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and malicious communications.

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He has now been released under investigation pending a decision whether to charge him or not by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

It is believed the message was sent by someone while in Lancashire.

Police have updated both Byrne and Wigan Athletic on the latest developments.

Defender Byrne had highlighted the abusive message he had received on his personal Twitter account after playing in Latics 2-2 draw with Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

The club has publicly spoken of being "angered" by what has happened and immediately reported the matter to police over the weekend.

The incident was one of several over a weekend that "saddened, disappointed and angered" the English Football League.

Brentford said they "utterly condemn discrimination" after a season-ticket holder was arrested following a claim of abuse directed at Derby midfielder Duane Holmes, while Northampton said several members of their first-team squad were allegedly abused prior to their match at Notts County.

The spate of incidents - following on from those involving Juventus' Moise Kean and England's match in Montenegro - has led to calls for players to abandon a match if there is any racist abuse.

However, former Watford striker Danny Webber believes that could have only a limited impact and says education offers the best long-term solution.

He told BBC One: "I agree with walking off the pitch. That's the first point, everybody making a stand and making everybody aware. But if it continues into the next week then it's not really made much of a difference.

"I think you've got to get a think tank of people together - that's from schools, nurseries, the football industry, other industries, men, women and people from every background - to try and think of a way to tackle it because it is about education. Because I don't believe anyone is born racist.

"Walking off the pitch is good to raise awareness, definitely. It's good to say, 'listen, I'm not standing for that and I'm walking off the pitch'. But going past that, it's about what gets done after that and who is in control of that.

"My dad would say, 'answer them on the football pitch', like Kean did for Juventus. He scored and that was his answer. OK, that was the way to do it.

"But beyond that, how do you deal with the little splinter groups who are within the crowd? They need to be banned and enforcement needs to take place, but the whole situation can be abused.

"You can get rival fans who will abuse a player to gain an advantage for their team... and when you start talking about points docking it becomes very difficult.

"What are your choices? Players need to have more choices. At the moment your choices are to walk off the pitch, suffer it or answer on the pitch. So everybody needs to come together as a collective."